Good Day St. Anne’s Community,
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting whether or not I should write about the events that have gripped our country recently, and have finally decided that I have to. Throughout my life, I have pushed so many feelings about race and racism deep inside, thinking that I would not have to deal with them ever again. I thought they would be safely tucked away, never again to hurt me. I’ve learned that pushing these feelings and experiences deep inside is a temporary solution, guaranteeing that the emotions attached to the event will explode out at some point.
As a black man and the father of two black men, there is not a day that goes by when I am not very aware of the weight of my black skin. I know that at 6’5” I could be seen as a threat at any time, so I must carry myself in a way to make others comfortable and not threatened by my presence. I was taught this by my mother and have passed these lessons on to my sons for their own protection.
When the video of Ahmaud Arbery being shot while jogging was made public, I was in shock. I cried; I didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know who I could speak to, and I didn’t know if anyone would speak to me. I tried to push the grief down and continue with life as usual. I worried for my sons, knowing that at any moment they too could be seen as a threat or could fit any number of descriptions. When I saw the video of George Floyd being murdered, I again cried. I’m still at a loss for words, and I’m afraid that part of me is once again trying to push this down deep inside. This time I think it is important for me to fight this urge and allow myself to feel all of the anger and frustration that comes with the seeming continued lack of value attached to a black life.
The anger is real, and understandable. It speaks to the level of frustration and the number of times people have had to push their feelings and emotions deep inside. People are acting out because they do not know what to do next. While we speak about core values of Respect, Responsibility, and Compassion and helping our children to realize their potential for good in local and world communities, we must also all be willing to truly listen to the stories of others, listening not to respond, but to understand.
We are at a delicate time as a community and country. We have the opportunity to be change agents and to make our world a better place, truly a place of understanding and compassion for all. I share this small portion of my story simply to give you a window. I know this could make me vulnerable, and that’s ok. I ask that you consider sharing a window as well. My name is Barry L. Davis, I’d love to meet you.