Even as a journalist and writer, some times it takes me days and even weeks to gather my thoughts. First I have to watch and listen. Then I have to research and study. And finally, I have to dig deep down in my gut and find the words to put on paper. Sometimes that process is fun. In this case, it’s painful. Primarily because I am thinking about George Floyd as I write this. But here goes.
Most of my childhood, growing up in the 80’s, included a sweet girl named Tomica Warren. She was a pretty black girl and I was a scrawny white girl in Ohio. We went to school together and dances together and games together. We laughed together. And cried together. We grew up together. Most of my best memories as a kid include Tomica. Now she has two brown sons of her own. They are talented and smart, just like their mama. In our 40’s, Tomica and I are still dear friends. I loved her then. And I love her now.
Fifteen years ago, when I was a reporter with Fox News in Atlanta, my roommate for a time was Joy Crump. She was funny and shy and black. She also happened to be the most amazing chef around. When my lease was up, Joy opened her home to me. She gave me her guest room and never asked for a penny of rent. When I had eye surgery, she took care of me. When I broke up with my boyfriend, she wiped away my tears. And when I was hungry she fed me. I admire every inch of her soul. And if there is anyone I want to be like when I grow up, it’s her. Joy and I are still dear friends. I loved her then. And I love her now.
When I birthed my first child, Shante Tabb was the black woman who rocked him to sleep. I trusted her with the biggest miracle God gave me. I hired her as a nanny and she became a dear friend. I can’t count the number of long conversations we’ve had over the past decade about life and family and motherhood. Shante raised two accomplished black women who also helped with all three of my babies. Her son and my daughter play together. Shante and I both have a soft spot for garage sales and I will never stop teasing her about wearing jeans in the summertime. Shante and I are still dear friends. I loved her then. And I love her now.
When I first moved to Birmingham, one of my very first friends was George W. Stewart. He is a man of God and he is also black. During the downtown Birmingham protests, he took video right after a group of angry demonstrators broke out the windows to his wife’s business. She is a doctor and also started a daycare center for an underserved community. During the video, he didn’t curse the vandals. Instead, he praised our Father. For over a decade, George has encouraged me and uplifted me. When I feel nervous about a big decision, I call George first. We have talked for hours about God and God’s grace. George and I are still dear friends. I loved him then. And I love him now.
I could go on and tell you about my friends – not acquaintances – my friends … Melanie Bridgeforth and Iyishia Jones and Ebony Stroud and Angela Jarrett and Bruce Nix, and Roshanda Pratt and Rosie Butler and Ines Hooper and Tracy Haynes and Portia Bruner and Tammi Taylor and Leesha Ellis-Cox and Gina Miller and Kimberly West and Tebonie Tanner and Casey Kelso Halsey.
I could go on and on to fill this page, but I think you get the point. All of them are black. And I love them. They know my heart and I know theirs. We took the time to get to truly know each other. And that is how we became friends.
That is the recipe. And God wrote it.
I don’t know what I can do to “fix the world” right now … but I do know I can write. I can keep writing stories about the hearts beneath the skin. Maybe my words can provide a needed perspective, an under-represented voice. I don’t expect you to agree with everything I write. But I do hope you at least think about it.
And just maybe my writing will be shared on social media and the more people that read, the more of an understanding we can come to as a nation.
The road to ending hate is paved with listening ears, open minds, and respecting hearts.
God, help us all find the love.
*** For the next week, I will be writing only about solidarity and racial peace here *** I hope you come back for parts 2-7.