Back in January as I pondered how I would use my voice via a blog, I needed to choose a “title” for it…and it came to me in seconds…Mrs. B in CommUNITY. You see, from the moment I began dating my beloved cute boy, there was one thing that palably stood out to me about Milwaukee. Some of you were more aware than I, as you lived “it”. Some of you were more aware than I, as you served “it”. Some of you were as aware as I, because you saw and felt “it”. Some of you weren’t aware…and now, post-COVID and “The Triple” assualt to their/our humanity (the horrific images of Amaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd), you are. Over the twenty years we were together, to the best of our ability, albeit not always saying the right thing nor doing the right thing, we showed up to help where and when we could. With a regular cadence, the interactions with our black and brown brothers and sisters broke our hearts and fueled our desire to continue serving.
Today, there are 2 opposing emotions swirling in my heart…it’s broken and beats with and for my black and brown friends. AND, there’s hope. We have NEVER witnessed such an awakening and response to a call…to a 400 year old call. For me, I’m committed to focusing on the positive. And to that end, what follows is a speech I wrote and delivered in the fall of 2017 when I accepted “The Honorary Alumni Award” on behalf of Joe and me from The Milwaukee Public School Foundation. Like you, I am not perfect and I will continue (without intent) to say and do things that I will learn I could do better. I look to my black and brown friends to love on me enough by pointing out how I can be and do better. I hope this gives you great comfort that by just showing up with an open heart you will make a difference.
In loving kindness,
We live in a time and place of EPICness. Epic levels of uncertainty, of fear, of negativity, anger, and hate. We’ve experienced this with our families, our friends, and in the restaurants with our patrons. While I acknowledge and respect that those feelings are very real, as we share some of them, my dear friends, allow me to remind you those things have never solved anything. The only action that this collection of thoughts and feelings has ever resulted in is violence in its various forms. Violence to ourselves, violence to each other, violence to our communities and perhaps the most damaging of all, violence to our children, for they are always watching.
Nelson Mandela, famously said “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
But by the grace of God I am what I am. 1 Corinthians 15:10
I am a woman. I am white. Add that up and you get the luxury of white privilege. I didn’t ask for it. I did nothing to earn it. I didn’t buy it, it was my birthright. I live by the principle that I can leverage my white privilege to spread love and give hope. I am a self-described love activist.
I see you…
I see your humanity. I see your sex, your color, your size, age and creed. I respect and honor our differences. Through your eyes I see your joy, pain, sorrow and struggle, and always albeit sometimes buried deep down in there, I see a glimmer of hope. I see how you acknowledge me. I welcome your warmth and I respect your walls. I see and deeply feel your fear. I see and am comfortable with your white privilege. I see and am curious about the color of your skin. I see that the doors that are opened wide for me are slammed shut on you. I see and am heartbroken by the hand of cards you were dealt and forced to play by this game of life.
See each other…
In the year 2000, the Humane Genome Project coded the entire human DNA and proved that there is no genetic nor biological basis for race. Whether or not this is something we are willing to accept, science has proven that we are all connected. I’m connected to you and you are connected to me. I feed off of you and you’re feeding off of me. I am a believer in the power of the human spirit to persist and to preserver. I know that what separates humanity is time and distance and I know that a warm greeting, a smile and most certainly a hug can cross any chasm. I see you. May the love and light in me shine upon and welcome the love and light in each and every one of you.
See me. I see you. And, please see each other as you see yourselves.
Jennifer you are remarkable and have always shown your support for enhancing the educational foundation for people of color and I commend you. I have been witness to your efforts and appreciate your awareness to the struggles people of color have gone through. I simply thank you!
It’s good to hear from you, and thank you for your supportive comments.
Mrs. Jennifer B, very well done. I know you said… I see your humanity. I see your sex, your color, your size, age, and creed. However, I have never known you to “see” someone’s color. You have always seen another person and interacted with that person as an equal. If they needed help you helped them if you needed help they helped you. Thank you for setting an example that we can all follow.
Hi! I can hear you saying these words. I have heard and felt the strength of your voice. For nearly two decades I have witnessed the powerful way you interact in rooms filled with hundreds of people who just want to get to know you. You make every.single.person. feel as if they are the only person in the room. You never look beyond, you look directly in. I continue to learn a lot from you and am thankful for you.