A Reflection on Words

As a writer and public relations professional, I understand the power of words.

Carefully chosen words can make all the difference. They can build greater understanding and cause us to reflect on our own thoughts and behaviors. They can make us uncomfortable. They can inspire us to act.

Powerful phrases like “I can’t breathe,” “White silence is violence” and “This could be my son” are now heard and seen here and around the world. As a white woman, I have been hesitant to write about #BlackLivesMatter. What if I say the wrong thing? I decided to take the plunge when a number of my friends encouraged me to write from the heart.

When my younger son recently shared that he was part of a peaceful march in Atlanta that resulted in violence, I gasped, but carefully chose my next words. This Jewish mother replaced the word, “but” with “and” as I told him, “I’m so proud of your activism and worried as hell. I later learned my friend said the same thing to her Black son in Minneapolis.

Yesterday, I cried when reading a post from a “tired Black mother” living in our predominantly white, liberal neighborhood filled with #BlackLivesMatter signs. She described the slights, the stares and the humiliating and dehumanizing experiences. “We need more than signs. We deserve to live *here* in peace, too.”

Her words made me feel even more hopeful that everything could change. People need to share these words, their personal stories. I for one will listen more, do more and not stop until we as a nation eradicate white supremacy and institutional racism.

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