Keep Your Eyes Open

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Friends,

Those of you on Facebook have already read my story that I will be sharing in this post. I share it not for pity. Not for attention. Not to take anything away from Black Lives Matter and make it about “me.” I share this story because I want to bring awareness that there is hate in this world. Blatant hate. Subtle hate. Hidden hate. Always driven by fear.

WE have opportunities all the time to speak up for what’s right. Not necessarily just in “major” events like protests or my experience in the story I share, but in the more important, subtle conversations you have daily with your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. Those conversations. We need to be better, and I’m speaking to myself too.

This was the TikTok video that started it all:

This may stir up emotions.

But I want to share this because we all need to open our eyes and see what’s going on around us. Not to you necessarily, but to others around you. Some of you may never have experienced racism. So you might not get it and actually feel defensive. But I’ve had a taste of it before. It’s my hunch. And if I’m wrong and it’s not racism, then tell me why this happened. Why?

On Friday I went to Half Moon Bay with my parents and sister’s family. We finished the day with ice cream at Joanne’s Cafe. They had a policy of only one group at a time in the shop. Everyone else waits on an X six feet apart outside. My sister’s family went first, then my parents, then me and my girls. My family found some seats in the shade around the corner so I told them I’d meet them there.

While my girls and I were in the ice cream shop, a man came in the store. The two workers told him to wait outside, so he stood at the doorway. My girls and I got our ice cream and headed out.

He was right next to the doorway. With 6 feet of space behind him. But he didn’t move. So we had to pass thru the remaining space of the door to get by. As I walked past, with my mask, with my double ice cream cone, and with my 5-year-old following behind me, the guy literally lays his hand on my shoulder and pushes me out the door mumbling something and then “Whoa too close!”

I was in shock and at first I said sorry, then caught myself to say, “Where else am I supposed to walk?” The people around were shocked too but no one said anything.

I grabbed my daughter and quickly walked away.

What just happened?

I felt so violated and upset. I could feel the weight of his hand on my shoulder, because when have I ever been pushed before?? Never! That was unreal and unacceptable. But like I always do, I walked over to my family and didn’t say a word about the incident.

I had to process what happened. It’s taken me 2 days.

First, why do I resort to apologizing? I always say sorry. Always. I regret that. I need to stop defaulting to taking the blame for everything. I didn’t do anything wrong. The more I think about it the angrier I get.

Second, I did not speak up for myself. A person like that, if he really was worried about social distancing, he would back up and make space. A person worried about Covid would NOT go out of their way to touch somebody else’s body. No way! But he purposely shoved me out the door! In that moment of disbelief and shock, I failed to stand up for what’s right. To tell him that’s not ok. To prevent him for doing that again to someone else. I said nothing.

Third, no one else stood up for me. The random people around either didn’t see or didn’t want to get involved. I don’t blame them. It takes effort. And courage. It’s easy to read this and say, I would have said something. But in the moment it’s different.

So no I can’t say for sure it’s racism. Might not be. All I know is that it was intentional and it was wrong. And I’ve learned that the next time I witness or experience something unjust, I will find the courage to speak up.

Keep your eyes open.

Thank you for standing by me, friends.

Love,

Grace

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