Reflections on 9/11 and 2020

I remember sitting in my art studio for weeks after 9/11, stunned and weighed down by the grief and sorrow that penetrated every aspect of our lives. No one was immune to the overwhelming sadness we experienced when so many humans tragically died on that early September morning. America lost her innocence on 9/11. Our nation had just experienced its worst terror attacks in its history. But along with the unbearable sadness, I also recall the beautiful ways our country slowly came together to heal. We clawed our way back from the depths of despair and found hope. Our country united and we took solace in our collective pain. We were resilient as we began the long, difficult road to recovery. 

It is now 2020 and I am reminded of those same desperate and somber feelings again as our country is challenged not only by the COVID pandemic, but also the ever present racism pandemic. The social and racial inequities have grown too visible to ignore. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the senseless killings and the racial traumas our African American brothers and sisters experience. As I witness the overwhelming pain throughout our nation and throughout the world right now, I observe something that I saw in the aftermath of 9/11. I notice small shimmers of light and love from people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, race and nationalities creating a movement that demands change. Change based on reconstructing old narratives and obliterating racial stereotypes. Our cultural framework must evolve to ensure the safety, belonging and acceptance for all humans. This is the glimmer of hope that will begin to pull us through this difficult and painful period. It is possible to begin the healing process in the midst of this grief. I have faith that our humanity can move us forward. We have the power to make a difference, no matter how small. Our collective goodness will rise above the darkness as we endure uncomfortable and messy challenges. We have the strength to brave the necessary and overdue societal changes needed to create a new foundation where systematic racism and oppression are no longer permitted. 

I am more determined than ever to stop standing on the sidelines and to start showing up by using my talents and my creative voice to try and heal some of this brokenness. We must genuinely understand the strife and hardships many face because of the pigment of their skin and publicly advocate for them. Until recently, I have intentionally been silent because I couldn't find the right words to adequately articulate my feelings. But that's the thing; it's not my time to speak, but rather to listen to our black friends' stories and understand their burdens. To learn and bear witness to significant cultural changes and how white privilege factors in. I admit to being ignorant and I vow to hold myself more accountable. 

For now, I send you goodwill in hopes you may pass it on to someone you meet today. I will strive to be a better listener and to be more aware. Change is possible and it is time. This is a new chapter to finally give all people, regardless of their skin color, the dignity and the respect they deserve. May our compassion lead us towards a more loving existence for all mankind. May we raise each other up. May we always hold space for one another. May we continue to find glimmers of hope as we evolve.