I value my privacy but realize that small business is very personal, so have had to make my walls a little shorter and allow more vendors, more community members, and more clients small insights into my life. Facing a personal crisis and the largest challenges of my life, I had stepped away from social media while my business went to the back burner, and I did not speak out and shout my knowledge that BLACK LIVES MATTER and that my business supports the national uprising occurring (hundreds of years too late). But what if I were dealing with my personal challenges, the pandemic, AND being black? The privilege of my skin color enables me to avoid another compounding factor in my life. I’m sorry for not speaking out louder, sooner, bolder for my business and myself.
I have 2 biracial children who are 4 years and 7 months old. My almost 5 year old does not know much about COVID-19 other than there are “bad germs” around and we needed to stop going to school, parks, and public places for a few months. We can’t hug and high five people (this is SO HARD for her) and we have learned to wear face masks when we will be around anyone outside of our household. With no cable, news, and staying mostly to ourselves, she is removed from the atrocities and wrongful deaths of black people along with the strong rising up of community voices, other than seeing service vehicles, blockades, and helicopters nearby due to our proximity to downtown. As we return to a new normal post-COVID and she asks more questions (4 year olds ask a LOT of questions), we will dive into more difficult dialogue.
I realize that she will get to choose her identity in many ways as she matures and am preparing myself for these conversations at each stage, but know that diversity in voice and representation is extremely important for her development. The first time she asked if she could straighten her hair and color it “gold” I cringed, and knew that she was not represented in her school or many of the princess movies she loved. Last year, I made the hard decision to change her school and consciously chose one with a diverse student and teacher body. I encourage her to love her hair, her body, her skin, and see that diversity is beautiful and that she can become anything she dreams of. The books on her shelves are diverse. Her dolls are diverse. The people in our circle are diverse. I read, listen, and am still learning how to best raise her, but I will never understand.
I wasn’t ready to talk with her about bias. About racism. About hate. That is my privilege because I don’t live that everyday.
I support ALL LOVE and I have made sure that my business represents that, but the wedding industry is whitewashed and mostly hetero normative. I have proofed all of my contracts, media presence, and my spoken interactions to be inclusive, so I have never questioned my position or the perception of my business. My silence and complacence was wrong. Earlier this week, I offered my space to a panel and town hall-styled discussion about race, racism, and uncomfortable conversations which didn’t, and couldn’t, even scratch the surface. I stood at the back of the room and did not speak, because it was my place to listen and soak in the discussion. There were statements of joy, rage, misunderstanding, guidance, and support which were all welcome. Our country and people have been complacent and never attempted to make (impossible) amends for the wrong we have done to black people. There should be rage. There should be a desire to burn it all to the ground. There “should” be whatever it needs to be to treat the disease of hate and bias. It is not my place to tell anyone how to feel or react.
But he called for mama and I felt that deep in my soul. As a mother, I wept. A strong, black man called out for the comfort of his mother and still, people stood by as he was murdered in the street.
My hope is that drastic change is happening. We, as a people, can evolve away from ignorance, albeit too slow. I hope that the world becomes more welcoming quick enough for my children, and remains open to all children. I hope that I am equipped with enough knowledge to teach my girls, with a heart open to continued growth and learning. I hope my daughters actually CAN be and do all they dream of. I hope it is all enough.
As an artist, I see color, and it is beautiful. As a person, I see color, and you are beautiful. As a business, I see color, and I support you. This is more than a hashtag. More than a moment. This is a movement towards dramatic change. And it is finally here.