I met our neighbor for the first time a few days ago.
I found myself rambling on and on about my husband. I told him he worked at the University. About how we’re from a small town. About how we’ve been married for 8 years. And how he played basketball in college and professionally. And for one of the toughest (and winningest) college coaches of all-time.
I talked about how he comes in late most nights because of work. That traveling with his team brings him home in the early hours of the morning. I told him our children’s names. I told him how happy we were to be here.
All things I thought would make him feel comfortable.
All of that for a stranger.
I don’t even remember his name.
I don’t know that this man is racist. There’s no crosses stashed behind his garage to burn. No bald, shaved head or indicative tattoos. But that isn’t what all racists look like, is it?
He was kind and gracious and friendly. Nothing he said or did raised any red flags, and I was looking.
Still, I gave explanation after explanation. Completely unprompted, because I’m terrified that someone will see my husband as a threat.
That he’ll come home late from a road trip and decide to leave muddy shoes around back. Or that he’ll see I haven’t left the porch light on, but the side door is lit. That our neighbors will see a monster and not a father coming home to his family. Not a daddy and husband who is so loved and would be wholly missed. That he will be that close to safe…and then not.
George Floyd complied and they killed him. A large, powerful man who worked in security allowed himself to be handcuffed by a smaller—in every sense of the word—“man”. That “man” killed him, while four others stood around and watched.
And we wonder why black people run from the police?
This isn’t a political stance. Supporting your neighbors, your friends, your fellow Americans—YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS—is not a stance.
My privilege does not protect my husband. It does not protect my children. My life is not harder because of the color of my skin, but in this world—theirs will be.
We, white people, have to help. Not because we are saviors or heroes, but because much of our country was built on the backs of our fellow Americans. Enslaved Black Americans built huge sections of our country, their labor provided for products and wealth that helped built the rest.
A picture of a White man kneeling on a Black man’s neck becomes even more horrifying when you realize you are watching from atop another Black man’s back.
To my friends and my family—my Black brothers and sisters in history, genetics, and Christ. They do not hate you because you are lesser. They hate you because we started the same and because now you are more.
Your strength and your resilience is terrifying to their status quo. The systematic dismantling of your family units. The appropriation of your culture. The insidious abortion of your children.
And still you are here. Still you build and gain. Still you endure. In the words of one of your most beautiful sisters: “still you RISE.”
They are envious, so they find pockets of power to use to intimidate you. To control you. To threaten you. To murder you.
But you know this—it was us that didn’t.
I’m not here to tell anyone how to vote or to tell you to join an organization or particular political party.
Latasha Morrison said it best when she said “Racism is bi-partisan so anti-racism needs to be bipartisan, too.”
I’m not asking you to not think or choose for yourself. Just the opposite, in fact.
I need you to choose to stand up in your communities. To donate. To speak out. To act.
I need you to choose to step out of your comfort zone. To have more conversations.
I need you to choose to stop and witness and intervene. To demand police and prison reform.
I need you to choose to make sure black children make it home at night.
I need this from you.
And, gladly, I will beg.
When I fell in love with my husband I knew racism existed.
When I married him, I saw it.
When my children were born—I FELT IT.
Breona Taylor was killed in her own home. Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down by his neighbors. George Floyd chose to comply and they knelt upon his neck until he breathed his last breath.
He called out for reason. He called out for mercy. He called out for “Mama.”
He called out for help.
Every piece of my heart walks in three different bodies, all with skin darker than mine. Without them, I cannot breathe.
I need you to help.
Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, teacher, mother, wife, blogger, and the owner of the eponymous Liza Dora Books. Her writing has been in publications around the world and her books have been featured in both media and print. She’s sold books in over ten different countries and her titles have been both Amazon Hot New Releases and Amazon Bestsellers in their respective categories.