We can be more than one thing.

Daily walks have become something of a quarantine ritual in my home. Early in this process, when everyone was still taking it seriously, I recall expressing to J: I prefer the morning walk to the evening walk. Because that’s how small our world had become. Small and beautiful. Today, during an evening walk, I was strolling through the beautiful, flower-filled neighborhood I get to call home, when I saw a little girl, probably 3 or 4, walking with her mother in a blue dress and black handbag. I started to move to the center of the road to pass them when she took off running, bag in tow. She stopped at this big tree and proceeded to throw that bag over her shoulder and start to climb. Her mother, pushing an infant, continued to stroll casually. 

A smile broke across my face for a couple of reasons. One, the nonchalance of this parent reminded me of my own sweet Mom who, more times than I can count, had to manage me climbing parts of this world some would prefer I didn’t. Be it a tree, a doorframe, upside down from any horizontal bar, I was a bit of a monkey when I was wee, so could identify heavily with this sweet angel. The paradox this kiddo represented also struck me. As she climbed heartily with her fancy bag in her pretty dress, I silently cheered her on, hoping the world never tries to put her into one box. This small person knows she can be more than one thing. She can be both strong and feminine, traits I’ve long tried to make fit comfortably due to the fact that I saw them modeled both early and often. You can mow the lawn in lipstick and re-tile a floor while drinking a glass of blush; I’ve seen it done.

I work daily to reconcile the elements of my personality that are intrinsic to who I am with those demanded by society. I wish I was someone who could shirk the latter, but I remain a product of my socialization, and strive for balance. Some days I am pleased with the space I find, others I feel like a failure. But today I am grateful. For the flowers, the sun and blue skies. Most of all, for any day that reminds me of my mom with a smile. Smiles have been a little harder to come by in the past few months. I haven’t done a ton of commenting on the state of our world, other than to say loud and proud that Black Lives Matter. The semi-sensical ramblings of an able-bodied white cis-woman with access to ample resources pale in comparison with all the content we are being gifted with in this incredible time.

With that said, if these last few months have taught me anything about being a better white ally, it’s to work only to amplify the voices of BIPOC communities, not insert my own. Our Black neighbors and colleagues do not need anyone to speak for them. They need everyone to listen. If this post has any message, I implore you to be quiet, listen to the voices around you and do what you can do amplify them. In short, pass the mic. And, because we can hope for more than one thing, I wish you, and all of us, a few more days where we are able to find balance in a world that asks too much of us.

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