Has this last week in the world been tough on you? It’s been that way for BELONG staffer, Chris McSwain. Today, she shares why. 

These last seven days have been hard ones. I don’t need to retell the happenings. By now you’ve seen the videos, you’ve watched the news, you’ve sloughed through online comment sections and you may have even formed an opinion on the state of things.

In case you’re out of all of the loops, I invite you to google ‘the fourth of July week that was all but free.’

For context and fairness (and in case you haven’t scrolled far enough to catch my head shot) you should know this: I am a black woman. I have a black father, black brothers, black uncles, black cousins and black nephews. My heart belongs to a black man. Should the aforementioned work out the way I’m hoping, I may one day mother a black son. And so with that, my heart has been heavy for my people. I own that. Just as deeply, as a new Dallasite with a deep value for human life and a stark position on anti-violence, I am distraught at the hate-filled massacre that claimed the lives of five police officers.

I watched the videos more times than I should have. I wept. I’ve been angry. I’ve been visibly annoyed by lack of acknowledgement, empty acknowledgement, and claim staking on opposite sides of ideological spectrums. Sharing on this is not easy for me. Speaking truthfully with grace and hope and wisdom on the heels of raw and real emotion is a tough place. Naturally, my inclination is to land firmly justified in a camp of who is right and what is wrong, and the truth is – it is not always that simple. Stigmas exists, as do nuances that inform them. The balance of my blackness and my love of humanity in light of the trials of our day is not an easy line to tow.

The issues (and realities) of racial disparity, privilege, profiling, injustice, hate, fear, distrust, chasms by way of behind-closed-doors conversations are too far steeped and historically rooted for me to even touch. And really, I don’t know how much it’d do for presenting a case. I don’t even know how valuable a case would be here. But here is this: I cannot undo what history did nor can I deny how those truths impact present day implications. I can’t assuage consciences by pretending there isn’t a common thread in the cases of brutality and I can’t undermine my heart truth that #blacklivesmatter. I will not promote division by blaming an entire race or civil system for the hatred displayed by a few. It is unfair for such definitive lines drawn anywhere in the proverbial quicksand.

What I will do however is err on the side of grace, recognition, truth, honesty and understanding. I will participate in conversations that open the doors for understanding. I will not hold steadfast to pain without opening the door for healing to dwell. I will share my table, my views, my hurt and my heart with the hope that I will see and be seen. I will not allow ignorance to beget enemies or for pointed fingers to cheer the blame game.

I will listen and I will speak up.

I will use my arms to fight for justice and to link arms in the name of unity.

I’m willing to try. Today.

No matter which side of the table you sit on, I hope you’ll share and extend the invitation to do the same.