Around midnight last Tuesday, we got a strange text alert.
Through the fog of sleep, we saw the announcement: schools closed in the entire Denver metropolitan area because of a threat of gun violence by an 18 year old girl.
My husband, a high school teacher, and our two kids were all at home — as federal and local agents searched for the armed, and troubled, teen.
I didn’t feel any imminent risk, but I did feel a deep sadness and rage.
I have the privilege of rarely feeling unsafe from gun violence. I’m a white woman with white children, and the protection that gives us. We also have the financial security that allows us to live in a community where we rarely confront violence, while other mothers fear for their kids in their neighborhoods every day.
When I sat in bed with my 9 year old that evening, looking into his tear-filled eyes as he asked me, “Is there anywhere that’s safe anymore?” I stumbled my way through an answer that felt honest. “We’re safer than many who don’t feel safe every day in their neighborhoods or walks to school.” I wanted to scream and curse at the horror of this injustice.
Sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit, I want to quietly be grateful and enjoy my life… tell myself I’m doing what I can. Tell myself there’s not much that I can do – that the problems are too big.
But I don’t want to surrender to that desire to hide or give up. And I can’t surrender to it and feel good about myself as a mom.
When I get real about what values I want to teach my kids, I realize that I better practice and model what I say. I better show up, regardless of my own fear (note — fear of looking bad, offending someone, making it worse — not fear of my physical safety). Regardless of my discomfort.
I better have the hard conversations about which I write, teach, and coach others to have. I better walk my talk.
I better follow my heart, not my fear.
The hard conversations that I’m having right now are:
“How do I talk to other white folks about the roles we play in systems of oppression?”
“Where do I still have biases and blindspots of my own?”
“How do we do better as parents of privileged kids?”
“How do I weave an equity lens into all of my work… with coaching clients, school communities, organizations, and my writing?”
There’s a lot that I don’t know, but here’s one thing I know for sure:
Nothing is going to get better if we’re not courageous.
Talking about things that are uncomfortable but important, whatever those may be for you, is the way to living a courageous and impactful life.
So, what are the hard and important conversations that you’re having in your own life right now?
The ones that make your stomach churn a bit, but you know you can’t hide from them anymore?
With love, gratitude, and “naked” courage,
Photo by Kyle Glenn