Good hard conversations

President* Trump,

Have you seen pictures of the gorgeous BLM street mural that’s on East Pine in Capitol Hill here in Seattle? It’s in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (the CHAZ) and stretches an entire city block. The one in your almost-front yard is really striking – I like the bold yellow and the fact that it can be seen from outer space, but the one here is even cooler; it’s way more interesting and all of the letter murals were done by African American artists and other people of color. Our daughter was down in the CHAZ this afternoon for the protest and said the mural is gorgeous. I’m hoping Laura and I can don masks tomorrow and venture down there.

It’s been kind of a quiet day today. Our older dog, Lizzie, who’s nearly 13, has not been well for the last several days and last night it looked like we might lose her. She seemed to be in pain from everything and kept switching off and on with scary panting and labored breathing – it was awful. We were all up super late and Laura slept downstairs with Lizzie since she couldn’t make it up the stairs to the bedroom. Fortunately, Lizzie made it through the night (I was really surprised to see her standing when I got downstairs this morning), all of the tests we had done this morning came back negative, and the new pain meds seem to be helping so things are looking up. We’re all still pretty wrecked from the late night and the emotionality, though, so I don’t have a lot for you today.

I do want to share that I’ve had the good fortune to be party to two very cool, very hopeful conversations recently. One of the conversations involved white people who are pretty new to thinking and talking about race, their own racial biases, and white privilege. It’s not that they never thought about racism or the negative impacts on people of color, but before recently it wasn’t something that seemed all that close to home or that implicated them. Their shifts in perspective on this are so inspiring and give me so much hope – serious hallelujah-time here!

The other conversation took place with about 20 people all on a Zoom call – a mix of African American and white people who all know each other somewhat but most of whom aren’t close and don’t generally talk about heavy or hard topics, let alone ones that feel super loaded, like race and racism. It was awkward at times and there were intermittent long silences. And, most people spoke and many people took serious risks. There was a lot of earnestness along with a lot of care and concern. Most of those in attendance and who spoke were young women, black and white, but two of the four men present spoke up and really, it was a solid start.

I’m bothering to tell you about the second conversation because this sort of conversation about race, where there’s a biggish group of people who know each other and have significant reason to care what the others think of them, don’t often happen. The fact that it did happen feels like it’s signaling that this time is different, like we are starting a comprehensive process of dismantling systemic racism – for real. Actually, thousands and thousands of people have been doing this work for decades, centuries, so I don’t mean to presume that us newcomers to the conversation and to the work are anything special at all (really, most of the white people among us have been remiss and complicit most of our lives) – it’s just that there are so many more people, so many more varied people, waking up and caring about racial bias and injustice that it feels different, it feels really hopeful.

May we risk hard conversations in the interest of everyone’s safety.
May we be inspired and find the joy in these hard spots.
May we believe in ourselves, one another, and our collective strength.
May we accept and trust that there’s enough for everyone.

Tracy Simpson

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