In high school, I was talking a walk near the intersection of Maynard and Wicklow in my hometown. It’s the neighborhood where I grew up with pine trees, beautiful azaleas and modest middle class homes from the mid-70s. But yet, in my very tony suburb, this was considered the poor area part town. But it was home – and there wasn’t a thing wrong about it.
Days after this particular walk, I was working at the fancy fitness club on the other side of town. The fancy side, where Lexus’ were doled out to high school juniors and every building including McDonalds was a bright beige brick and where the mere mention of the nearby country club made dollar signs pop off in your head.
A client asked me if my car had broken down on “that” side of town. She couldn’t understand why I would be walking in such an “unsafe” area. I knew what she meant. Our middle class straight outta Stranger Things neighborhood was exceedingly diverse and to some in our community, that meant: dangerous.
I posted on Instagram the other day that privilege is getting to walk (or jog) down the street without anyone questioning or detaining or killing you. I enjoyed my 2.23 mile walk the other day. No if he had a past or not, no matter if he had an ill intent or not Ahmaud Arbery’s life should not have ended on a public street in Georgia.
I wondered during my walk, what if I were black. Would I be questioned where I am now? Today, I live in a wonderfully diverse part of our small town. I don’t think I would. But would I have in high school, if I had chosen to run in the neighborhoods surrounding the fitness center. Most certainly so. At the very least, pearls would have been clutched.
I also thought about my children. Two of whom will one day need to have the talk about how they have privilege and need to use it for good. Two of whom, Lord willing we raise them forever, will need the other kind of talk. The kind I will lean on one of my brothers of color to help deliver.
I never, never want to have to worry about any of my children on a walk. Or out shopping. Or even sleeping in their own bed at night.
Because I love my children, I lament. Because I love my friends, I lament. Because of the divisiveness of the world, I lament.
This week, I was honored to be invited to help draft and sign a statement of lament. A small action symbolizing the sorrow and sympathy poured out in response to our nation’s racial divide.
I’d be honored if you’d join me in reading and praying through these statements and adding your name to the document.