Let’s Discuss: Say something or not?

I don’t think I could do a post on racism or white privilege effectively and so much is being said more eloquently than I’d manage. Though I do plan to share some thoughts and experiences eventually. That would constitute fair warning, by the way. But I want to ask my white readers, are you going up to black friends and family and saying, “How are you? It must be hard.” or any of the other things I’ve seen suggested?

I have to say, I thought that was so weird. I mean, why would I do that?

But I thought about the ways I’m labeled and when something has happened and how much I appreciated other’s reaching out. For example, I lived in Texas when the 1989 earthquake happened. From that distance,  being a California native was hard. The news was vague and I couldn’t immediately reach my family (who turned out to be camping near the epicenter). People in Texas expressed concern and compassion for me being far away and it meant a lot. It helped.

This year, at an international meeting of my church denomination’s leadership, the American church was side-lined because of our belief in marriage equality. It meant a lot to have others express compassion at what a difficult time that was to be an Episcopalian. It helped.

When I went through my divorce, I was part of a group who understood the specific circumstances and they said so. And it helped.

Three years ago, two police officers were killed in Santa Cruz. Our community was in shock and distress over it. It was awful. Other communities expressed their compassion. It helped.

Our local department expressed compassion to the City of Dallas. I hope it helped.

None of that compares to race. And none of that compares to what this recent violence must feel like. And maybe that’s it, I don’t know what it feels like (privilege).

But these memories did make me rethink this idea that I am not going to say anything to those in my circle who are black. Are they hurting? Are they worried? Does my silence add to that pain?

But why do I cringe at the thought of reaching out? What do I say? How do I say it in a way that doesn’t make me sound like some out-of-touch white lady who has no idea what I’m talking about? How do I say “I have no idea what to say but I am so sad that there are good Americans who feel afraid for no good reason (not no reason, no GOOD reason)” or do I say nothing?

But doing nothing feels bad too. What do you think?