Monday, June 1, 2020

For Such A Time As This.....


Hello, all!

Our personal worlds have changed in the past week.  Many of us have been rocked to the core as we watched events unfold, and as I write this tonight, I have just witnessed peaceful protestors in front of the White House in our nation’s capital being teargassed, herded, and shot with rubber bullets.  This may not be a popular post tonight, and if you are only interested in quilt-y things, I suggest you close your browser now and come back again later in the week.  I have things I want and need to say, and you may not like them.  You all know I do not generally use this blog as “that kind” of forum, but I believe it is incumbent on us to speak out where we are, and where we can.

As I listened to the news over the past week, I was struck by how many of the African-American newscasters were literally in tears over the events of that day.  They spoke through their tears of their fears for their children growing up in this world.  Of how little things had changed since the Civil Rights movement.  Of how tired they are. They said that they were tired of being angry, had moved beyond being angry because it did not good, and they were just exhausted.  They spoke of having to have “the talk” with their children - and no, that’s not “the talk” most of us had with our parents about sex.  It’s “the talk” about not wearing a hoodie because you might be considered a gang member or up to no good; about how to act if you are pulled over by a police officer; about how to act in a store so that you don’t get accused of shoplifting.

I have African-American friends with teen children.  I have white friends who have adopted black children.  I realize that they will have to have “the talk” with their children someday, or have already.  It hurts my heart that this is something they will have to do, and that they will worry for their children for reasons beyond what I ever had to.

When my daughter was little, she had a book called Imogene’s Antlers. She loved that book, and would request that I read it to her often.  In the book, Imogene woke up one morning with an enormous rack of antlers on her head that stretched from one side of her large bed to the other, and the story follows her through the day, showing all the funny things that happened to her because of her antlers.  For some reason, this story came to mind as I considered what I was hearing on the news, and I wondered what it would be like if I woke up one morning and a black face stared back at me from the mirror.  

Imagine shopping.  Would I be watched suspiciously in a store, with the clerk wondering if I was a shoplifter? Would the checkout girl at the grocery store expect me to pay with WIC?  As I loaded groceries in my big expensive SUV, would people wonder what I did to get the money for such a nice car?  Would I get pulled over by the police as I entered my neighborhood, with them wondering what I was doing there?  These are things that some of our fellow Americans face every day.

So how do we respond to today’s unrest and upheaval?  In my opinion we should first listen to our own inner monologue.  When you see a black man in a car pulled over by the police, does your inner voice say “drug dealer”? Or does it worry for that man’s safety as he tries to emerge from a routine traffic stop alive?  When you hear “black lives matter” do you immediately jump to “all lives matter”? I have been guilty of this, but after a week of thinking about these issues, I realize that although true, it dismisses the original speaker’s statement by superseding it.  It turns the focus of the problem from the speaker’s true meaning:  “I do not feel like my life is valued as highly as other people’s lives” and focuses instead on “I feel that you are placing black lives above all others, and my life matters too”.  In this case, we are not the story.  It’s not about us.  If we are to change, and affect change, we must look for the meaning behind the words, both our own and other’s.  We must listen and respond appropriately, leaving our selves out of the equation.

This. Is. Hard.  It goes against everything we are taught - do what feels right, put yourself first, etc.  But if we don’t stop, in this moment, and affect real change in our attitudes, I fear for our country.  Police your inner voice. Analyze what you are thinking, and why.

The next step is to listen to others.  Listen to what people are saying - not just their words, but the underlying meaning of those words.  Listen to their heart with your heart.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine living their life.  Mothers who send their kids to the school or the mall, wondering if they’ll make it home safely.  Fathers and young men who choose their clothing carefully so they look non-threatening; who feel the need to raise their hands in the air when a police officer comes to their car window after pulling them over for speeding.  Kids who work hard at sports because it may be their only ticket to college.

Next, look for the good.  Today I saw police officers kneeling with protestors.  


I saw a sheriff who asked the protesters what they wanted him to do, and when they asked him to walk with them, he did.  


I saw the brother of George Floyd visiting the site of his murder and as he knelt and prayed at the site, all of the protesters knelt and prayed with him.  Silence reigned supreme for about five minutes as this happened.  


I saw that same man remind the crowd that if anyone had a right to be angry, he did - and he did not want the violence and destruction that has been occurring to be his brother’s legacy.  He had one request of the protesters - that they vote.  That they vote in not just federal elections, but in state and local elections.  That they use their voice and their vote to affect change that would last.

I may lose readers over this post.  I hope not, but if this offends you, please feel free to leave.  If I have mis-stepped, mis-stated, or misunderstood anything regarding the African-American experience, please chalk it up to my own ignorance.  I am trying to learn, grow, and understand but these issues are hard.  

How to end this post?  Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am at a loss for words much of the time.  I want to rail against the fear that causes me to clutch my purse a little tighter or walk a little quicker when a man walks towards me in a parking lot (regardless of that man’s color!)  I remember a time in this country when children went out to play on a summer morning and wandered through their neighborhood, playing with all the neighborhood kids and coming home when the fireflies came out.  Everyone’s mother watched out for everyone’s kid, and we knew if we did something we weren't supposed to, our mom would hear about it.  Somewhere along the line, we lost something.  Maybe it’s kindness, or caring for others as much as we care for ourselves.  I just hope we can find it again.

Hugs!


Sarah

81 comments:

  1. I have seen far many more riotous, destructive mobs than I have any peaceful ones even though George Floyd's family has asked for peace. MANY National Guard members, police and Secret Service members have been injured while protecting what they were tasked with protecting around the major cities that have been overrun by the rioters. Many have been injured attempting to protect their business, many have lost homes and churches and stores have been looted!! WHY? Not because people are coming together to protest..the mobs have come together to cause any kind of mayhem that they can. This has nothing to do with the death of a man at the hand of a cop. Too many people and their businesses have been hit a second time (first the virus, now the mobs) and that second time may be the final end to their livelihood. It is absolutely disgusting watching these criminal thugs burn down cities and churches, burn police cars, break out business windows and beat up people simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Far too many of these rioters have come into an area and are nowhere near where they live. All of this makes me livid and sick!!

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  2. Well expressed Sarah. As we watch with heavy hearts from Australia, the sadness is that one act (that may have been the ultimate extreme end of similar actions) has unleashed such feelings and actions that are not representative of who George Floyd was. May kindness & dignity prevail. Thanks for your post.

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  3. I think your post says what a lot of us are thinking but are not brave enough or articulate enough to express. Thank you.

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  4. Thank you Sarah. Well said. And those who can only see the looters truly fail to understand their white privilege. This is about the callousness and disregard for their lives with which African Americans in our society are treated on a daily basis. Our first responsibility is to stand up and say murder by the police and racism are wrong and won't be tolerated. Thank you for adding your voice.

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  5. I had tears as I watched George Floyd's brother collapse, then talk, and again as I read your words. Spoken and written from your heart, and every one so true.I fear for our children, our grandchildren, how can we overcome this violence and murder, for that was plainly the truth of how it happened. Not by chance, but deliberately, with other police just watching or covering the crime from any reporter. In my autograph album a friend wrote, in December 1953,
    " Life is mostly froth and bubble.
    Two things stand like stone
    Kindness in another's trouble
    Courage in yo0ur own"
    We all need courage, love and loyalty to stand up and be heard.
    Sarah,. thank you so much for your words today, and although down here in NZ we are relatively safe, everything can change in a flash. Be strong and listen to your heart.

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  6. Beautifully said. Thank you.

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  7. Thank you for the beautifully said thoughts which mirror my emotions. I used to read a children's book to my class called Nettie's Trip South where a character wondered what it would be like if she woke up in black skin. I struggled to keep my composure while reading. I cannot imagine how it feels to live with so many obstacles in your way, and to live with constant fear for your family. We have to do better. I recently read biographies of Alexander Hamilton and was reminded of the treachery and deceit in that time period. I think about the awful times in the 60's. Then I read novels about WWl and WWll and I feel that we overcame so much more. We can survive and design a better country for us all.

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    1. I'll have to look for that book for my grandkids. We can survive this, but it will take effort on all of our parts - it isn't going to happen on its own!

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  8. Thank you, Sarah. It is hard for those of us who have been in the majority, have had things seen our way our entire lives to understand how pervasive the discrimination and sense of danger has been. Something as simple but as demeaning as "skin color" crayons being peach toned starts so early. And now, as we start to talk about it, earnestly, it can be hard--we feel awkward, vulnerable, and don't want to offend. But conversations have to happen. I've seen reading lists and suggestions of videos to watch to gain an understanding of how to be a better "anti-racist" ally--which is to say, how to be actively working against racism, rather than just not participating in racism. I've read some of the books already, but I'm committing to do the work required, to understand what other people have lived through every day, so that I can more fully know what the American experience has been like for so many. Thank you for being brave and posting this, Sarah. I'm sticking with you.

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  9. Thank you....BlackLivesMatter

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  10. I was telling my husband tonight that when I saw signs that said, "White silence=violence" that I felt guilty somehow for not doing anything about the injustice. But I don't know WHAT to do. How can I help a positive change happen in this country?

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    1. I have read much today, and one suggestion that I saw (beyond lots of books to read) was to donate money to groups that provide bail money for protesters. I was also very impressed with the people who were at the protest sites to provide water and snacks, and to help people who had been hit with pepper spray or tear gas. Of course, that's not an option for many people. I think a willingness to seek out ways to understand and listen (and action to that end) is a great step!

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  11. Apparently you have not heard the newscasters explaining that the destructive wild mobs were made up of outsiders who live to perform those acts of looting and destruction. The peaceful protesters are evident in the daytime, and are against all the violent actions of the outside troublemakers.

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    1. If that's directed to me, yes, I have heard that. I spent my day watching coverage of the peaceful protests going on across the country.

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  12. Your words resonate so loudly with me, Sarah. Thank you.

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  13. Dear Sarah,

    I only came across your blog last week and signed up to start receiving it. I have enjoyed reading it. Today, though, I can't say that I "enjoyed" it, not because I don't totally agree with you, but because you are so right! Thank you for expressing your feelings and trying to open people's eyes. I, too, never understood the statement "black lives matter" as opposed to "all lives matter". This week sadly brought it into focus. Please know that I understand why you wrote this on your "quilt-y" blog and I appreciate it that you did.

    Thank you,

    Laurie Morgan

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  14. Sarah, I could not agree with you more. My heart is so heavy for our country and citizens. Thank you for speaking your heart and for standing up for peace and equality, and justice. I pray things are better for my grandchildren, but if things don't change soon, I fear they never will. It's long overdue for change...100's of yrs overdue.

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  15. Thank you for your post. Many feel the same as you. In our area where "protestors" were arrested, the police said they were actually people with criminal histories that were just opportunistic, not actually in mourning. Others were paid agitators, anarchists, etc. If you are interested in reading about what would happen if you woke up another race, you could read Black Like Me. It's a white journalist's experience as a black man in the 60's south.

    Since I am old and brown, not white, I have experienced some strange things that left me wondering, "is it because I'm Latina?" I can't imagine being even darker skinned and continually being judged just because of that.

    I agree that voting is the way to go. We are living in strange times that are becoming even more bizarre.

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    1. I will look into Black Like Me - I've heard of it, but never read it. And yes, strange times are upon us. Voting may be our only hope!

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  17. Thank you Sarah. I truly am saddened by what is happening in our country. No parent should ever have to have a conversation with their child about how to act because of the color of their skin. There is way too much hate in this world. :(

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  18. Well said Sarah. I can not imagine how POC feel. I promise to do better. Thank you for the post. Everyone needs to read this (so I posted on FB). Voting is the key. I just wish the politicians were as interested in stopping all this as we are. But that is a whole other subject. It starts with me.

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  19. Much to think about here. I'm in agreement, but still putting my thoughts together about what to do. I appreciate how you put your values out for others to see and think about.

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  20. Amen for this post, Sarah. It's too bad that those who really NEED to read this just won't. These days a dog has more rights than a black person. Shame really. Skins is only skin deep. It doesn't depict the heart of a person, be it black, white, purple or first nations. A man is a man is a man. I think newspeople have to stop naming colour when something happens. "There was a robbery today, a man of 6 feet ..." it doesn't have to say it was a black man. I think it would help the general public to see a person as a person. I don't know, maybe. Slavery has been banned for a long time and yet, they are still afraid and feel unsafe. May kindness bloom again. ;^)

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    1. "I think newspeople have to stop naming colour when something happens. "There was a robbery today, a man of 6 feet ..." it doesn't have to say it was a black man. I think it would help the general public to see a person as a person."
      CHANTAL -- I wholeheartedly agree with your above statement.

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  21. Thank you Sarah... beautifully written. So insightful and heartbreaking about "the talk". I do try hard everyday to "BE the change" that is needed.

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  22. Well said. You expressed the feelings I (and many others I know) have. Thank you and God help us all do our part to bring about positive change, justice and peace.

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  23. Very good post! I worry that the agitators will take over the truth of a horrendous murder and make it their own-it does not excuse their actions. It never does. Let us each do our part-unselfishly again.

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  24. I agree wholeheartedly. Yes, please vote at every level. We cannot let this country be turned into a police state by an autocratic despot. I do not understand how people can continue to support this evil man who foments division and violence. We have so much work to do to heal our country and everyone must get involved.
    Pat

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  25. Thank you Sarah, I'm still trying to figure out WHAT I can do to help immediately. Voting locally & nationally is probably the action that can help in the long run. I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about my own prejudices. I like to think I'm not prejudiced but I am. I'm uneasy when I see a group of black men but I don't feel that way with a group of white men - that's called prejudice. I have a lot of soul searching to do. All lives matter isn't true until Black lives matter.

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  26. So much hurt and anger. So much injustice. Let us restore peace with justice and human decency for all. Always. Everywhere.

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  27. Wonderful post Sarah. I have black family members. I have brown family members. I myself am an immigrant but because I have white skin and no accent, I'm not seen as one. It is impossible for us to understand how our non-white fellow citizens feel and it's OK to say "I don't know what to say".

    Along with voting, we each and every one, need to teach love and acceptance and stand up to those around us who do not. Prejudice and judgment is learned-we are not born with it.

    You have a wonderful platform here to motivate people to think and evaluate themselves. The more we know, the more we can do. We are each responsible for our circle of influence.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us today.

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    1. Thank you, Elle! And thank you for sharing about your family, and your own thoughts.

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  28. Sarah, You said it so well. Devaluing black lives has been going on for so long - since the birth of this country. This incident was so raw that is awakened so many people to look at what black men and women go through every day. I hope this is a turning point in how we understand race.

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  29. Well written, Sarah. One of the most heart breaking parts of this week is that with the violence and chaos from the foolish (on both sides of the story), the message of the needed reform is distorted and lost. I pray that needed message is actually heard. I was reminded of a song the other night....Hear Us From Heaven by Jared Anderson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-GTJ3i2xtw This fallen world will only be changed by God's work in each of our hearts.

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  30. My sentiments exactly. The protesters are peaceful, and the looters, arsonists & rioters are taking advantage of the situation for their own gain. They appear to be well-organized and coordinated, making it difficult for the police to apprehend and stop them. It is a sad commentary on our country that this minority is controlling our cities to this extent, and at such a difficult time.

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  31. So eloquently and heartfelt sentiments which many of us feel but have difficulty putting into words. Thank you!

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  32. Meaningful post - sadly, so needed. Thank you for stating so well what so many feel

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  33. Replies
    1. Replying as anonyous just because I am not a google or blogger...All I can say is DITTO! VOTE!!!!

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  34. My "shame on you" comment earlier was in response to the spam comment on hacking and using atm cards to steal money. I didn't want you to think it was directed at you. I don't think you'll lose any readers. I agree with everything you said...what saddens me in addition to the death of George Floyd is that the situation is manipulated by some news outlets and by paid protesters. Change that---if you have to hide your face you aren't protesting you are rioting/ engaging in domestic terrorism. People are being paid to engage in this activity and spur it on. I understand the anger in the black community...unfortunately, it is being "used" by the darkest of hearts to divide us and destroy this country. Blessings...may God heal this land and give us love for one another.

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  35. beautifully said. Thank you Sarah.

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  36. My daughter and family drove from WA to CA last year for a family reunion. Before they left, she had to find out where the White Supremists groups were in Oregon so they knew not to stop in that area coming and going!!! How sad I thought and worried the whole time as she is white and my son in law is black. Therefore I have 3 grandchildren that are multi racial. I don't think race relations will ever be resolved in this country as there are still too many hate groups to instigate racial unrest.survivor972002@midco.net

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  37. A beautiful, thoughtful and well-written post. Thank you. I keep reminding myself that the protesters are protesting as they need to. The rioters are doing the rioting and looting, and they are not the same groups. We will get through this.

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  38. Well said Sarah! When I saw it on TV, I felt like crying. No one should be treated that way. I feel like we're going back in time instead of forward. Don't know why there is so much hatred.

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  39. So well said. Such a beautiful post. I especially liked the takeaways "Police your inner voice. Analyze what you are thinking, and why... Listen to their heart with your heart."

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  40. Thank you for your insightful post. You eloquently expressed the feelings of many including myself. My family participated in a peaceful gathering to show unity for racial justice. We must listen. We must learn. We must act. All lives don't matter until black lives matter.

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  41. Thank you for you thoughtful reflection.

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  42. Powerful! Thank you for saying what is in your heart. I feel the same way!

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  43. I have read this several times. Very powerful. I just read a post on FB...I don't know how to share it here so have sent as an attachment to your email. And it summarizes, in modern terms, a passage from Luke 15 which I found very appropriate. Hugs!

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  44. Thank you for your post Sarah. Some folks are bothered by the riots and the violence. To them, I say - look at the 400 years of violence against Blacks. If our country truly focuses on equality and justice for the people of color, peace will follow.

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  45. Thank you, Sarah, for a well thought out and heart felt post. The statement that stood out most to me was, " We must listen and respond appropriately, leaving our selves out of the equation." Wow! If only we could do this! Such a powerful message. And, people should remember that protesters protest and looters loot. We should not allow the two to be confused.

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  46. Thank you for your heart-felt words. May we all work and pray for real change in our country, and in ourselves.

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  47. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!

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  48. Thank you Sarah! I live in a community that has had 2 days of peaceful protests! We do not have a large non-white population. Some Black, some Native American. My experience is limited, but I feel as you do...that we must fix this. We must!

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  49. My heart is full after reading this and I have hope that maybe, just maybe, we can change so that we are no longer the problem. I want what you want. It is our job to make the change, and we need to do it without depending on leadership from people of color. They have been telling for eons what we need to do, but we have not listened. Let's talk to one another, call out racism when we see it even if it costs a friend or family memeber. Help each other to be more accountable.
    Let's talk to one another, be honest about our own failings in this, and what we are doing to be better. Maya Angelou said, if you know better, you do better.
    Thanks Sarah.

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  50. Thank you for this post, Sarah. It means a lot to read your words, so well expressed.

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  51. Thank you for this. I don't agree with the violence and damage, but I understand why they are doing it. Peaceful protests have not worked in the past. Talking has not worked in the past. Thank you for speaking up.

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  52. I just left a very long comment, and my computer ate it. I will never remember what I said, but the gist was thank you for this

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  53. Well said! Thank you for writing this post, for being brave enough to post it and for trying to understand and be part of the change. I feel exactly like you do and hope, with all my heart, that we will see real change come to our country.

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  54. I stand with you. Thank you for such a well-written piece. As a Mexican-American who has lived in Small Town USA, I have experience racism, but never at these levels. It's scary to see the direction our country is going in. I do believe it can be turned around. With God all things are possible. Blessings to you.

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