My Dresser

20 years ago, during the spring semester of my sophomore year of college at the University of Illinois, this is what my dresser looked liked in the room I shared with two friends, living in our Alpha Phi Sorority house.

You can see that I like pictures, trinkets, and mementos.

I am a very sentimental person.

And I could write a story and/or blog post about at least 10 different things I see at first glance, when looking at this picture.

For now though, I want to tell you about the mirror.

Do you see it, hanging on the wall?

It’s square, pounded silver, with little flowers around it, and has always meant a lot to me.

It is a thoughtful gift that came from one of my oldest and dearest friends.

She died one year ago today.

I had the honor of speaking at her funeral and shared many memories of our childhood, growing up together in Evanston.

I also told everyone that day about this mirror and why it is so special to me.

When she gave it to me, my friend said that she hoped when I look in it that I would see myself as beautiful as she sees me.

Isn’t that an incredible thing to say?

Many times throughout my life, I have looked into that mirror and found the strength, love, and confidence  I needed during difficult times.

What a gift my friend was to me and many others for almost 35 years.

I miss her.

I wish her peace.

I will never forget her.

You are always in my heart, Sam.

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It’s not enough.

Listening is good.

Empathy is admirable.

But, we need to do something.

I get why it’s important to pick our battles.

However, that’s not an excuse to never stand up for what we believe in.

Without taking a stand, then they are just words.

So what?

I wish I had an answer.

I don’t.

But, I am not going to be quiet either.

I am grateful to have been raised in a town and by parents who embrace diversity.

I was taught to have an open mind and not to judge people, especially based on their race and religion.

That said, I am white.

I get it.

There is privilege that comes with that.

Being a women, I can appreciate the point of view that comes with this gender.

Likewise, being heterosexual and Catholic, there are certainly aspects of who I am that stem from those parts of my identity.

So what do we do?

What can we do?

What could have stopped a man in Charleston, SC from attending a bible study, at a predominately African American church, pretending to care and be ministered to, and then horrifically turning on the very people who were opening their hearts to him, and killing them in cold blood?

Were there people in his life that challenged his beliefs in a meaningful way?

I struggle so much with the questions that surround racism.

I have tried, many times, to take on those in my life who I perceive to be prejudice.

Sadly, for the most part, they never seem to be interested in or open to my perspective.

So then how does the change happen?

Where does it start?

I imagine that the majority of those who are reading my words agree with me on some level.

So then am I just preaching to the choir?

And is that any different than just listening?

I have to believe that this post matters.

My taking time to write and share matters.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, wherever it may find you.

I will leave you with a challenge.

Be the change.

Don’t hide behind the activists that everyone is used to hearing from.

If you doubt that people in your life know how much you care about your fellow Americans, especially people of color, then make sure your actions and your words show that.

It matters.

You matter.

You can make a difference.

We can’t stop the injustice and hate crimes that have already happened.

But we can stand up and speak out for what we believe in.

Now it’s your turn.

What are you going to do?

Action

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