This past weekend, I planned a day of total relaxation. No calls. No texts. No social media. My plan was to simply—be. I visited a spa in the affluent Highland Park area of Dallas, Texas. My feet are soaking in luxuriously hot water, my glass of Chardonnay is chilling on the table beside me and my eyes are closed. Just as my soul relinquished a much-needed sigh, a popular news channel interrupted my moment with breaking news: “Violence erupts at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
The silence in the spa was deafening.
A white woman was sitting next to me. We exchanged smiles. After expressing her disbelief at what we were witnessing in our own back yard, she looked at me for words, then said, “I’m sorry.”
I deflated. I told her there was no need for an apology. At some point, every race, ethnicity and creed, man, woman and child, is going to have to be honest about race relations in America. Racism is real, and it happens regularly, right here. This country was built on hatred toward people of color. Yet, we all survived. We overcame. We rose above. We’re learning to soar.
From a black president to a CEO of a major company, we have progressed. So, I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me or apologize to me because I’m a black woman. I don’t need to prove who I am or receive validation by anyone. I’ve never needed anyone to tell me my life matters. I know my life matters. They know my life matters. Thus, their rally. It’s the afterbirth of their fear. From their fear, they have birthed a lack of control, the stench of something different, the ire of integration. But you don’t fight fear. Instead, you educate. You respond with love.
In the spa, as the woman and I sat and stared in disbelief at the violence unfolding, we began to share our lives, our histories, or commonalities. We found that we were both working on some of the same goals and issues. Although she lived in north Dallas, she considered buying a home in the impoverished Fair Park sector of Dallas. An area in which I grew up. She noted she is dedicated to seeing the area revitalized. So am I.
We engaged in laughter, libations and reflection. Before we knew it, another woman joined our conversation. We all challenged how we could make a difference. We pondered how we could tear down the racial barriers in our city, or be the change we want to see. Together, we hoped our dreams could become reality.
Before long, I shared with them why, in 2007, I created WTS. I did it to bring together a diverse group of women from around the world to share their personal and professional stories and change lives. I knew race in America would be on the rise. I just had no idea how high it would reach.
I told the ladies, somewhere, society left reality and became comfortable in our manmade cocoons. Today, social media tells us everyone is living an amazing life, when in reality—no matter what color—we’re all looking for validation, hope and a false sense of worth.
My heart is heavy for people of color especially because somehow, a need grew for someone else to tell us that our lives matter. We obviously can’t seem to recognize that for ourselves because if we did, then we would come together. Not to rally. Not to protest. But to build. To own land in our communities. To spend money with one another. Until people of color believe that our lives matter, in no manner or form can we convince others, who ironically already know, we matter. If they didn’t, why would they fear?
Racism will always exist. If we’re looking to eradicate it, we’re looking at a smoke screens and mirrors solution. Instead of watching the news, posting on social mediate or protesting, get up and help someone. Get out and clean a community. Help revitalize inner cities. Spend money with black-owned/women-owned businesses and employ people of color. More so, take the time to empower, inspire, enlighten and connect with someone that looks different than you. You may just make a friend.
Until Next Time, Continue To Soar!