Dear White Allies

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Photo: istock

It’s been over a week since the murder of George Floyd. Are you tired? I’ve seen a lot of you say that the weight of the nation is exhausting right now—the anger, the sadness, the confusion, the constant news updates. The fear that you’re going to say or do something wrong sits heavy on your chest. I ask you to sit with that weight, that exhaustion, that vulnerability. It’s so important to do so now more than ever. Why? Because that’s the weight that our black community has been carrying alone for decades. It’s time to carry that burden with them.

The way that you’re questioning every move you make, every word you say, is what POC have to do every day. Those little things build up. Do you text your friend the night before a job interview to ask them if you should straighten your hair because you’re afraid you won’t get the job if you wear it natural? Do you hide your bottle of water before you walk into a store because you’re afraid they’ll think you stole it? Have you ever had to talk to your kids about what to do if they ever get arrested? And those are just the small, everyday things. But they build up.

I’m probably in the minority when I say this, but now is the time for uplifting, hopeful messages. I’m seeing a lot of you say, “We need some goodness in our lives right now.” And while it’s good for everyone’s mental health to carve out some moments of peace for yourself, so that you can smile even just for a second, it’s important that we sit in the hurt, discomfort, and overwhelm right now. Why? Because if we don’t, then this fire that we all feel right now is just going to burn out. We’re going to go back to our everyday lives after a few days of posting meaningful quotes and this will just be another protest that goes nowhere. We owe it to the black community to feel uncomfortable right now.

So I encourage you to spend some time in the dark. In the hurt. In the pain. In the confusion. In the sadness. In the anger.

Natalie Fuertes is the owner of Industry Gymnastics, a gymnastics facility in NYC that focuses on creating a space that is welcoming to all children, regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual-orientation. She is a proud Nuyorican, racial justice advocate, wife, and mama of two.