It’s Okay If You’re Not Okay
I Can’t Breathe
It’s okay if you’re not okay. As if COVID-19 taking over our lives wasn’t already heartbreaking enough, America is now facing the pain of yet another death of an unarmed Black man due to police violence.
While we were all dealing with the uncertainty and anxiety of lost jobs, closed businesses and schools, and a deadly pandemic, we were also confronted with videos playing on repeat of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the harassment of Christian Cooper within days of each other. For many, and especially for the Black community, hearing George Floyd say “I can’t breathe” was the tipping point.
At Latanya & Co. Weddings, we document love stories and we celebrate love and inclusion. However, today is not the day to talk about planning and documenting weddings. I wanted to take a moment to pause, reflect, and mourn the unnecessary death of George Floyd and what has transpired across America as a result of his death.
I was born into a trying time in American history to an African American father and a White British mother in 1967. As a biracial woman who is married to a biracial man, my world has always been colored by diversity.
I don’t remember all that my parents had to endure as a biracial couple, but I do know some of their stories that still sadden me to this day. Like the time they were walking through an airport and someone spat on them as they screamed racial slurs. Or the countless times growing up that people would ask my mother “what is she?” Looking at my brown skin and unable to make sense of it alongside my mother’s white skin and thick British accent.
As a military brat, I was fortunate to experience different cultures growing up. I do, however, have my own stories of microaggressions over the course of my 52 years of living around the world…
Being called “Oreo” or “zebra” in elementary school.
Hearing that I wasn’t Black or White enough for either side.
Being told that I talked like a white girl or had hair like a black girl.
Between these two worlds is where I lived, and it was hard to find my place as a young woman. I remember, in elementary school, coming home crying to my mother and not understanding why the other children were so mean to me. I can still hear my mother’s words, “My love, you are unique and they just can’t see that.”
The word “unique” sounded so magical to my 7-year-old self, so much so that I embraced it and held my head high upon returning back to school. Did it stop the racial slurs? No, not at all, but that word somehow gave me power. That day I embraced that I was a beautiful woman of color, and if they couldn’t see that, I no longer cared.
I married the love of my life, who happens to be Puerto Rican and African American, and we went on to have a daughter in 1995. I vowed that she would understand who she was and not feel the same pains I had felt at an early age. When she was very little, she recognized that her skin color was different from that of the other kids she played with at school. She asked me, “What am I?” It cut me like a knife–she was so young, why should she have to know and try to understand such things? I finally told her that she was a beautiful woman of color that could not be defined by others.
Let’s Start The Conversation
I share this with you all not for pity, but to start the conversation that we as a nation have neglected to have. Chances are that you have friends, acquaintances, or extended family members that are not White. If you ask them, I am sure they, too, will have their own stories of micro- or even macroaggressions.
So you may be asking: What can I do? I am not a racist! But I don’t see color!
I hear you, but please understand that that is not the point. The America that a person of color lives in is different from that of our white brothers and sisters. It is really that simple.
It is time for all of us, regardless of race or political affiliation, to have a real conversation and to LISTEN to each other. We are a product of our environment, and our perspectives are shaped by our own experiences.
It is not easy to put yourself in a position of understanding someone else’s perspective, but it is not impossible! You just have to be willing to do the work required.
As a company, we are making a pledge to always stand up and speak up.
His name was George Floyd. His name was Ahmaud Arbery. Her name was Breonna Taylor. Say their names.
It’s okay if you’re not okay.
If you would like to start a conversation or just need to talk it out we are here- click here.
Here are some organizations that are promoting meaningful change.
American Civil Liberties Union