This memory came to mind as I was wondering how to say SOMETHING, ANYTHING, in response to the systemic injustices, terrorism and racism being waged against black people and people of colour. I don’t have the answers, but I can’t stay SILENT as a white person, so I hope these words give some comfort as they are intended to do.
When I was about six years old my parents had some friends over for dinner. As things really got underway and the wine was flowing, our guests and my parents became louder and more animated. I sat in the corner and at the time my head barely reached the table and I had the sense that I was almost invisible. I ate my steak, chewing and taking in the conversation in the best way that a six-year-old can.
Suddenly, a piece of the steak slid down my throat before I was ready and became lodged in my windpipe.
I tried very had to swallow and force the food down, but nothing happened. Immediately, my body went into panic mode and my eyes went big. I pushed and swallowed and pushed, but it wouldn’t move. Meanwhile, the laughter and talking had reached a deafening decibal as the dinner party went on around me, with nobody noticing that I was choking.
The fear had me frozen, as I quietly tried to breathe, feeling alone in the corner.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. My dad leaned down and asked me, “Are you ok? Are you choking?”
With the strength of feeling SEEN I was able to give one giant push to the food and it went down! If no one had seen me I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened.
Which is why I am saying right now, to each and every black person and person of colour, whether you ever read this or not, I SEE YOU.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I AM WITH YOU. MAY THIS GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH TO GO ON KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SEEN AND THAT YOU MATTER. AND I CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.