The Thing That Gave Me Hope for Change
At the age of 7, I was a Girl Scout, like a lot of 7-year-olds. My troop leader was also my soccer coach, basketball coach, and softball coach. In retrospect, I guess it was a pretty small town.
It was around the 4th of July and we were making a bunch of decorations and writing letters to veterans. Politics was always a topic at my house and I remember bringing it up to my friends in the group. I began talking about Bush and how he was hurting the country, ie. probably just repeating what my parents said at the dinner table the night before. One girl, the troop leader’s daughter, asked me if I was a Democrat. I said yes. She immediately looked nervous and then asked her mom if it was okay if I took part in the 4th of July celebration since I was a Democrat.
For the record, today, I don’t identify as a Democrat. But, at the time, there were only two things we understood in our town: Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, bad, Republicans, good.
I asked my mom on the way home if us being Democrats meant we didn’t support America. She told me that’s not how it works. We love America. We just recognize it needs to change.
Yesterday, the troop leader’s daughter posted #BlackLivesMatter.
But I don’t just mean she posted that black square and a hashtag. I mean she was all over my newsfeed, posting Black made movies and books about racism in America. She shared petitions and calls to donate.
I haven’t spoken to this girl since high school and I do know that, then, she was firmly a Republican. Do I know if she’s a Republican today? No idea. And that’s kind of the point. There’s something slightly hopeful know that maybe she is. And maybe it’s less of a partisan issue than we might think. Maybe it really is that the predominance of people, regardless of political affiliation really believe that Black Lives Matter.
A boy I went to high school with, who I didn’t know particularly well beyond understanding that he was a bit of a class clown and hung out with the popular group, has been commenting on each of his friends’ posts if they are in regards to the protests, attempting to have conversations with them in the hopes that they might come to understand that the protestors aren’t looting and that the demonstrations have shown to be civil until the police show up. I’ve even seen some of his friends admit to seeing it in a different light after talking to him about it.
My closest friends from school, who I used to argue with constantly when they condemned Obama and yearned for the days of Bush, now call for police reform. The last time we spoke about the protests, they said they’re scared for the protestors, not the police or anyone else harming the Black Lives Matter movement. They clearly understood that there’s a difference between the looters taking advantage of a painful situation, and the protesters who are attempting to do something about police brutality and systemic racism.
In these times, it’s not my right to be comforted.
I don’t have the right to say to another person, “But look! Things are getting better because some people have grown into understanding power structures and are demanding systemic change!”
I hope that those who have been affected by these atrocities are comforted slightly by knowing that, even if some were raised in places that might not be condemning these horrific acts and taking action, they themselves are recognizing a desperate need for change. Though it is little solace, it’s still solace.