When I originally titled this post it was because I was going to give you the rundown on our encounter with a small girl named Lila and her extremely annoying older brother. It was last July 4th and we were sitting peacefully on a bridge near our house, waiting to watch the fireworks and happy about the lack of noise. Then Lila and her brother (and the incredibly tuned-out, and apparently deaf mother) came along and it was all Boom–pretty firework–Scream (Lila) and then “Hushhhhh Li-LA!” for the next half hour. For a full year afterward, anytime someone in our family was being extremely annoying, all of us would give our best impression of: “Hushhh Li-LA.”
But after I experienced the news this week, including all the reaction on social media and I thought, how can I possibly blog about Hush Lila? Just to make you laugh? To put out a funny, timely, 4th of July blog post? But there’s nothing funny about what’s going on out there in America right now.
I won’t recap the news for you. And I won’t sit here and pretend that a young white woman like myself (hey, I can still claim young) could possibly have anything to say to you about what it’s like to be black in America. Or what’s it like to put your life on the line every day as a police officer. I just can’t.
Angie and I were discussing this yesterday at the pool (pre-Dallas tragedy). Side note: I am forever grateful to have such a rational, intelligent sounding board in a truly awesome friend. Anyway, we talked about how we really needed a better perspective. We also talked about the big dilemma–what to say or not to say on our personal social media. I’m a big proponent of “if you stay silent you are siding with the oppressor” (just see my last blog post), however I also have tried to make a commitment to making my Facebook and Instagram a place of only positive, family type posts. You know, for the grandparents to enjoy.
But even just talking about my struggle on what to say or not say about all this seems so incredibly and stupidly….white. Who the fuck actually cares what I think about this? No one should.
These were the thoughts running through my head when a young African-American male named Joel approached the porch of the coffee shop where I was working this morning. Kathie (my writing pal) and I asked him about his skateboard and he asked us what we were drinking. When he came back out with his drink, we continued to chat with him, and eventually he sat down and we ended up having an hour-long meaningful conversation.
We talked about past mistakes (he gave his mom some trouble, but he’s making it up to her now), and future ideas (he is into video blogging and wants to study business and media in college). And yeah, we talked about what’s going on right now. We talked about fear based reactions, and racism, and how one of the best days we have all three seen was the day Obama was elected.
Then we talked about how he just turned 18, and this next election will be the first he can vote in, and he’s super excited. He is a Bernie fan, but he will throw his support to the candidate that does not fan the flames of fear. He told me that the main thing my kids want to hear right now (after a discussion on the difficulties of being a teenager), is that I love them and I’m there for them.
It reminded me of the famous quote by Mother Teresa: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” So that’s what I’m going to do. And if my kids act in a way that is not peace-promoting, or say something intolerant—yeah, I’m going to go all “Hush Lila” on them. Because we have to shut that shit down. The next generation is our greatest hope.
Mother Teresa also said: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Thank you, young Joel with the skateboard at the coffee shop, for reminding me how to find peace on a day like this, and for showing me that there is hope in our youth.