A Good Home

8 Specific Actions We can Take

Hi Friends:

An acquaintance confessed this week to feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the racism problem in the US, and the issues we face here in Canada.  He felt paralyzed with rage and powerlessness.

I confessed that I have those moments of paralysis too. 

We decided that taking specific actions is one way to break the paralysis.  

I’ve also been taking inspiration from your own replies here, from the articles I’m reading, and from my two daughters.

With the above in mind, I compiled a list of actions, most of which cost nothing:

1. Reach out. 

Start with friends and neighbours. Share. Listen. Learn. Let the other person know you’re concerned.  

I cannot count the number of times I stereotyped certain White neighbours and acquaintances, thinking they would find the topic of racism too difficult to discuss.  But by asking the first question and listening to them, I was reminded every time that I don’t have a monopoly on caring about these issues.

And yes, I even shared my Mother’s Day post with some trepidation, and was relieved at the support from my blogging community. Thank you.

So talk to people, especially Black people, if you’re not Black. You might even ask: “How do you think I can help? I want to do something to make a difference.”

2. While you’re at it, don’t assume that liberals and socialists are the only ones furious at the murders of Black individuals. 

Human beings are complex. One of my friends is White, conservative, evangelical and pro-life. She points out that “you can’t be pro-life yet support the wanton killing of Black citizens”. 

3. Speak up when you see a wrong.

Silence is not an option, says Allen at New Hampshire Garden Solutions.  And small, everyday actions matter. “We don’t stand at a microphone on television. We speak across the lunch table at work, or in whatever other social situations we find ourselves in, but we do speak. Staying silent is simply not an option.”

Jane Fritz, in her very insightful blog post, says the things we don’t do can be unintentionally damaging: “The bottom line is that one person’s ‘harmless fun’ is someone else’s lifetime of hurt, exclusion, fear, and self-loathing.”

4. Write something.

Several bloggers decided in recent days to directly address the issue of the murders of Black citizens. Jane Fritz, Lisa at arlingwords and CandidKay are just three. What would happen if more bloggers decided to do the same?

Blogger Chris wanted to do something but hardly knew where to start. His wife kept saying “You could write something”, until he heard her and did  this blog post.

5. Share articles with useful ideas and practical suggestions.

It was Murtagh’s Meadow who sent me the link to Chris’ post. And Wendy McDonald, Writing to Freedom and others have done similar.

Another friend sent me a link to this very clear and powerful video by Emmanuel Acho on Twitter:

pic.twitter.com/74SVv8XOqp

6. Support already-established groups working to reduce barriers for Black people.

We don’t have to recreate the wheel. Laurie Graves did two things: she wrote a post, then she acted to support The Poor People’s Campaign (https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/) founded by Reverend William Barber.

My younger daughter immediately donated to Black Lives Matter, my older daughter to an organization providing bail money and legal defense to those arrested. This is important. Years ago, I learned that young Black men here in Canada are more likely to plead guilty to a crime even if innocent because they know their families can’t afford bail or legal defense. It may be the same in the US and the UK, for example.

7. Support Black businesses in your area or online.

My younger daughter shops online for baby clothes and other items during the pandemic. On learning that Black communities and businesses are disproportionately affected by COVID, she started making a deliberate effort to find and shop at Black-owned businesses or brands in Canada and the US.

8. Vote your beliefs.

If equal rights are one of the things you truly want to see, look for the candidates who include it in their platforms and who are prepared to fight for it.

My best,

Cynthia.

Cynthia Reyes is the author of Myrtle the Purple Turtle, the children’s illustrated book that teaches inclusion, friendship and kindness.

 

A Good Home

Black Lives Matter

If you see this headline and feel like retorting, “All Lives Matter”, think twice. The reason Black lives matter is exactly because ALL lives should matter.

I’ve had real difficulty writing posts here this week. On Twitter and Facebook, my usually uplifting posts as a gardener, writer, wife, mother and lover of nature and country life have been replaced by information on how all of us can be allies, instead of silent bystanders on the tragedies taking place in the US. 

Yes. “Taking place.” A Black business owner in his fifties, a friend to local police, was shot by police who fired on protesters this week. 

This violence against Black citizens never seems to end. It never seems to bloody end.  And it frightens me. For America, for the world, and for my own relatives — dozens of relatives who are American.

I’m used to being the soft voice of reason in my family, but I find my anger bubbling up.  I pray, I meditate, and I stroll in the garden. But these days, I don’t find the total peace that my faith and being in such an idyllic place with its woods, stream and flowers usually provide me.  I simply can’t.  

I find myself saying the same words to my American loved ones that I said during the worst of the pandemic: “Stay safe. Stay well”.  But my meaning is different. And perhaps this is a time we all have to become a bit less safe.

Quite frankly, it concerns me for my White American friends and relatives too. I know from your responses over the years that many of my blogger friends are appalled by the treatment of Black people. I know that some of you are committing small acts of courage to fight back against injustice.

There can be no peace as long as Black lives matter less than that of Whites. 

Here in Canada, we sometimes pretend to be immune to what happens in the US. It has never been true. We have our racists too. And the election of your president has emboldened racism and bigotry in our country. The impact is undeniable.

We are not immune. And having so many American relatives and friends, I cannot be immune. Yes, your well-being matters to me too, regardless of your race.

As you can imagine, I cannot afford to be a bystander. I’m a Black woman. My own Black daughter and White son-in-law live in the USA. My sisters, great-aunts and their families. I’m a Black mother, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, niece and in-law to a whole bunch of Americans whom I love. 

As I said on Twitter, I need my non-Black friends to be allies. I know that some people will unfollow me when I ask them to help, when I ask them to not look away. But many of you know my heart and I believe I know yours.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for being there. Thanks for the good that you have done and will do.

 

 

A Good Home

Spring Sprung

The lovely thing about our cold, grey May is that every bloom lasted much longer than usual, while the birds and bees had a feast.

See? Always a silver lining in the garden.

Life is keeping me busy but I hope you are all safe and well. And yes, Allen at New Hampshire Garden, the trout lily leaf at top gets bigger each year but still no accompanying blooms. 7 to 10 years you said? 🌾

A Good Home

The Courage to Do Something

I had planned a lovely post about Mother’s Day. Then I read a moving post by Liz Gauffreau.

Her post included a review of the book Queenie’s Place and comments by  author Toni Morgan. Morgan reveals that the book was inspired by her own (American) experiences in the 60’s and 70’s.

Segregation of public washrooms, drinking fountains and buses and a sign declaring an area of N. Carolina “Klan Country” were part of it. She says:

“I always regretted that I hadn’t had the nerve to make a statement on the bus when I was younger. So I created a character in Doreen who experienced some of the things I had over the years, but had the courage to do something about it.”

Don’t we all wish we had had the courage to address a wrong? Moments where we turned away — perhaps out of fear for our safety, our jobs, friends or social status?  

Yesterday, I had 2 experiences that shook me. One was seeing the video of the young Black jogger in Georgia who was chased by two White men (one a former policeman) and shot to death. Then I saw photos of the young man’s mother and read her anguished statement. 

Here is yet another Black American woman who will be grieving on Mother’s Day.  

The second event was when a relative in America sent me an article he had written.  A young man known for being calm and clear-headed, he had written an article that was passionate, angry, and action-oriented. His fury was palpable.

He is White.  His wife, a brilliant and influential Black woman, is confident in most aspects of her life — but fearful of police. My relative wrote as an “ally” with up-close knowledge of what it’s like to fear police officers as potential killers.  

I suggested ways to make the article more effective, but I did not tell my relative that reading it shook me up for long minutes. 

Then I started singing a Bob Marley song whose words came from Haile Selassie decades ago:

“Until the philosophy that holds one race superior & another inferior is finally & permanently discredited & abandoned

Until there are no longer 1st-class & 2nd-class citizens of any nation

Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes

Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race

Until that day, the dream of lasting peace & world citizenship & the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.”

It didn’t calm me. Instead, it reminded me: attaining basic human rights for all is a formidable struggle – and it requires all people of conscience to do something.

I see so many tweets saying that we Black people are on our own: that “White people cannot be trusted” to do what’s right to help achieve justice and equal human rights for all.  I don’t believe that.

I believe we each have a role to play. That the big brave acts may overwhelm us, but each of us is capable of a small act of courage.  Even after we have failed to “make a statement on the bus”, we can rally and make a difference to someone’s life.

We can take part in protest marches, walks or runs, vote for our beliefs, join initiatives to bring about change, or take one of many other steps.   We can commit to acting as allies for a more just society. And sometimes, we can step across that invisible line and write an article (or even a book) that challenges people like ourselves to find a bit of courage, to do something that could make a difference to others.

Our small acts of courage can ripple across the pond and create big waves that could help more mothers to have a happy Mother’s Day.