I don’t like to get political on social media but I can’t stay silent right now. You may not agree and that’s OK but I’m not looking for approval or debate. This is how I feel.

All lives matter, yes that’s true and something everyone can agree on. But it’s not about all of us right now. I know that every white person is not a racist, that every black person is not a criminal, that every law enforcement officer is not corrupt and bigoted. I think we all know and understand that.

What we don’t all know and understand is what it’s like to be black in America. We can try to relate it to our own struggles or experiences but that doesn’t compare.

What is going on now isn’t just about the death of George Floyd, or the dozens and dozens of other names I could list that have made the news over the years. It’s not even just about the cases of police brutality connected with all those names. It’s not about these specific instances. It’s about systemic racism. It’s something that is woven into the fabric of our country. It’s in every part of our life and society and has been for hundreds of years. Even if you aren’t racist and ‘don’t see color’ you know it exists and you know it is predominant in our society.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in fear because of your skin color. I can’t imagine having to have ‘the talk’ with my child, especially young black men, to remind them that at some point they are going to be called out or scrutinized just because of the color of their skin and tell them how to act in order to make it home alive when it happens.

I don’t condone violence, looting or rioting. I think the message that most protesters are trying to peacefully get across is being clouded by opportunists who just want to destroy and cause chaos. But I also can’t imagine the frustration of peacefully protesting over and over only to have another black life senselessly taken. These are impossible losses for the families and nothing will bring those lives back. But something has to be done. You have to start somewhere. Justice. Fairness. Equality.

As many times as these cases and injustices have happened in the past, we always seem to end up back here. When you think things are getting better you realize in times like this that maybe we haven’t gotten very far after all.

It would be very easy for a marginalized community to be driven to hatred in times like these but the real power is in working within the broken system to fix it. Putting the message out there that positive change isn’t happening across the country and that is not longer acceptable and something needs to be done. Like many of the marchers and protesters are trying to do. Changing hearts and mind requires everyone’s help. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee before those football games, this was what he was protesting. I may not have agreed with the venue but I understood the message and didn’t think he was being disrespectful to the flag or veterans. But the message was lost to those that needed to hear it the most and the backlash distracted from its meaning.

Our country has been divided for a long time, and not just by racial issues. And in the absence of a leader who can empathize and acknowledge that pain and frustration and have those difficult conversations to help us all move forward as one, it’s up to ‘We the People’ to stand together to let those voices be heard.

I don’t have the answers. I just have a beating heart that is breaking for the African American community; for our brothers and sisters, who are pained every day by a culture that looks at them but doesn’t see them, that hears them but doesn’t listen, who talks at them but not with them.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I am going to work on educating myself and having those uncomfortable conversations to gain better understanding of what I could do to give support.

I don’t know how as a society we get to that point of moving forward but I know that I can continue to be an ally and a listener and an extra set of lungs when my voice is needed. And maybe that is what it takes, for each of us to do our part in our daily lives. Have our own little voices in our own little worlds and bring those worlds together as a big voice to change the world we all live in.

We can do better. We have to do better.