This letter was published on June 5, 2020 by Suzi Hudson, WBCA’s Executive Director.
It has been 11 days since the killing of George Floyd. I have had no words that feel adequate or even rightfully earned from my position of whiteness, however the demonstrators’ signs that read: “White silence = Violence,” calls me to task.
Yesterday, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke in Minneapolis at the first of four memorial services for George Floyd. He began with a well-known line from the Book of Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season.” He then expanded to say that now we have entered “A different season.” Now “It is a different time.”
Indeed, the local and national demonstrations voicing the outrage, anger and pain over yet another, unjust killing of a black man, have shown America this time our response must also be different.
Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Inside America, there are far too many untold stories of injustice, unchecked violence, and the inhumane treatment, especially of black, brown and non-white Americans. Why tell your story if nothing changes? Why share your pain if your story doesn’t matter? I can only imagine how exhausting it is trying to “educate white folks.”
As a society, we do not really want to hear, see or confront what we are unwilling to face. Sometimes it feels like things are just too broken. Truthfully, things have never been right to begin with. Fortunately, time’s up.
It’s time to listen.
It’s time to hear the truth and face the untold stories.
It’s time to determine what liberty and justice for all, DOES, and DOES NOT, look like.
A writing teacher of mine once said, “I read so I can live in another person’s skin for a while.”
I don’t have the answers. I’m only trying to say that I believe the more we can find ways to “live in another person’s skin,” the more we will be prepared to start healing America’s deep, terrible wounds.
And only then, can we start writing a new story for America.
White Bear Center for the Arts remains committed to build understanding by connecting people through their stories and art.
Executive Director, White Bear Center for the Arts