And now that I live here, whenever I remark on something being odd for where we live, I have lots of people helpfully pointing out, "yeah, but we're not Southern Indiana. We're Bloomington."
We're a diversity-lovin', recyclin', hippie-dippie, activist, academic kind of community, it's true. And so I didn't feel any hesitation or compunction at all, attending a Black Lives Matter rally this last Saturday.
Black lives have mattered to me for a very long time now, whether or not I actually knew to put the words to it. But regardless, for a long time I have been grinding my teeth over the blithe arrogance of people (read: white people) who don't see things wrong with things the way they are. I have a huge respect for folks who devote their lives to law enforcement, but I see that there are major issues with the way we handle the presence of minorities in this country, and I also see the disgusting racism that takes place, and I don't want people to think that All White People don't care. I am an ally. Even if all I do is show up to a rally, and hold a sign, and look my fellow country(wo)men in the eye and try to convey that yes, I acknowledge your struggle and I am here if you need me and I won't stand silently by. Even if all I do is that, I want to do it.
So I did it.
Funny thing to note: in the Midwest (even Bloomington) a #BlackLivesMatter rally is still very white.
I came, I chanted, I rallied, I embraced the spirit of democracy that protects us all in America (in ideal America, anyway). But I learned something, early on. I commented to the person with whom I was attending, "Of all the places in America for this rally to take place, I cannot imagine a less relevant place than Bloomington." Bloomington, the hippy-dippy, diversity-lovin', academic oasis of Indiana--what police brutality or prejudice or inequality could we possibly have here?
Right away, I caught myself--spoken like a Caucasian middle class female who has never had to experience life as a person of color.
Even as an ally, I have so much to learn. But I want to turn up to the lessons. And while that might not be like a lot of Indiana--well, it's still my Indiana.