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Motivated by the response to the first two “You Stood With Me” pieces, I found myself coming back again and again to the idea of creating another piece rooted in the call to racial justice.
As a white woman who grew up primarily in white communities, I am necessarily engaging my own process of growth and accountability as I learn more about the experiences of our sisters and brothers of color. That process became an even greater priority in my own life since moving to Bolivia in early 2013.
Living in South America radically changed my perspective on the world; specifically it opened my eyes to racism in ways that I could no longer ignore. Sharing life in communities as often the only white person in the space forced me to confront my own identity, immense privilege and the racism that so deeply affected my dear friends and loved ones here.
The Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013 after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman, spoke to the racism I was witnessing every day where I live. It also educated me on issues of racism in the US that I had not known or understood. The many articles, interviews, and videos made by BLM activists and shared on the internet offered endless resources for growth and accountability to me and so many other white people who have lived in ignorance of these issues for too long.
I have been particularly moved by the call to white people to address issues of racism in their own white communities. The “You Stood With Me III” piece is one attempt at a response to that call.
I have read many articles addressed to white people about the concrete actions we can take to combat racism in ourselves and in our every day lives. This piece is intended to visualize those concrete actions in a way that engages white people specifically.
“You Stood With Me III” is meant to engage those of us who are very comfortable with the idea of serving soup to black men experiencing homelessness, a Work of Mercy in the traditional sense, but very uncomfortable and even critical of the Black Lives Matter protests blocking the highways on our way home from work.
I was raised Catholic and with this piece I specifically intend to engage those white folks who believe in and practice the Works of Mercy. I intend to expand our response to those most marginalized among us to include joining their fight for justice.
For what are the original Works of Mercy but a direct response to the expressed need for support and love from a person who is suffering?