Fear Itself

August 6, 2019

Lately I have been seeing a lot of people on social media saying “I shouldn’t have to be afraid to take my child into Wal-Mart, Target, school…” that in this country we should feel safe to check things off of our to-do lists without fear of being shot and killed by an assault rifle, and I couldn’t agree more. However, I cannot ignore the voice in my head that is thankfully getting louder by the day, a voice that is painful and scary and overwhelming, that voice being the awareness of my white privilege. I just had to take a deep breath after writing that, not because I don’t know that sentence to be true, but because of the understanding that a good portion of the people reading that sentence had a visceral reaction to it. I am acutely aware of how discomfort can make you feel both about yourself and of other people, and being someone whose biggest hurdles are codependency and seeking validation from others, exposing myself to people not liking my opinion and in return not liking me because of my choice to voice my opinion, it’s scary. But staying silent is the reason we are here in the first place, so I can deal with my bullshit fear, and type the words that I am still working up the courage to say out loud, which in it of itself is so fucking privileged. I get to decide when, where, and how I will be exposed to unfair judgement and ignorance. I get the privilege to walk around the world as a white, straight, middle class woman, who is not inherently protected from pain and suffering, but the color of my skin will never be the reason for that pain and suffering, which is what it means to have white privilege. The reality is, that women and men of color, who are looking into their babies’ eyes, the same way I do mine, in the back of their minds, they are praying that the black or brown skin they kiss before bed each night, isn’t the reason they will be a target for hatred or the unthinkable. That never crosses my mind when I kiss the soft white cheeks of my babies; that is privilege. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t knowingly exploit it, but I sure as hell benefited from it my entire life and continue to on a daily basis.

I too have fear, especially now being a Mom to two innocent children. I hate that I have to think twice before going to a crowded public space, or that I have to ask my daughters school what their active shooter drills looks like, it makes me cry just thinking about it. If I am exposed to that fear too often, I feel like a frayed live wire, anything I bump in to can trigger me to panic and fall into the rabbit hole of worst case scenarios. Thankfully, even in a world full of things that can scare me, I do not have to be fearful of how the world at large interprets me. I don’t go into crowds afraid that people will assume I am there to hurt them, the way that so many black and brown people are made to feel. I do not board a plane anxious that I will be profiled as a terrorist because of the way I am dressed. I don’t break out into a cold sweat when my husband or I are pulled over by a police officer, afraid that if we move too quickly or question his motives that we may end up in handcuffs or a body-bag. I don’t hesitate to sign my name, afraid that people will assume that I am not legally allowed or welcome in this country. But if that was my reality, I can promise you that I would be a drastically different person than I am today. I would be incredibly anxious, untrusting, depressed, and fucking angry. But I don’t have to be, and I am not these things, and the color of my skin has a shit ton to do with it. I am not apologizing for that, I don’t feel the need to carry guilt because of that, but I do know that it is absolutely a priority and responsibility as a member of the human race, that I acknowledge how differently I move about the world, and offer whatever help I can to those that are exposed to the hideous reality of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and the list of phobias goes on and on. Which at the end of the day, is what this shit show of a reality is all attributed to, phobia. FEAR. Fearing difference, fearing the unknown, fearing the loss of a power that you were born into, fear is the root of all of this evil. Now, do we need new gun laws? Of course. Do we need to reevaluate the way we train and vet our police officers? Of course. But all of those problems are tied to the disease of fear that lives inside of all of us, and the only way that we will see any change is when we are each willing to be responsible for our own shit, to sit in the deeply uncomfortable truths and untruths that live in our subconscious and dictate the way we live our lives. We have to forgive ourselves and those who taught us, for not seeing our bias’s sooner, and offer ourselves grace when we continuously stumble through correcting them. This is a human issue, but as a white woman, I can only speak from my own lens, and lord knows I am a carrier of generations of ignorance, oppression, and privilege, and I am making it part of my life’s work to break that chain, and pass on the knowledge of self-awareness, compassion, and deep listening.

I want to teach my girls that you can both support and question, you can love and set boundaries, you can stand up for what’s right and not know all of the right answers. Life is messy and confusing, and I know for me personally, it is very easy to want to run and hide, when the fear of being called out for not doing it all perfectly, can feel more overwhelming than my desire to speak out. But what would all this be for? What’s the point of subjecting myself to the inherent suffering of the human condition, if I’m not going to stand firmly in what I feel can ease the suffering of others? Because like Martin Luther King, Jr. so brilliantly said “no one is free, until we are all free”.

I don’t expect this blog to change the world, and I have no attachment to it even changing people’s minds. But I do have the intention for it to spark thought, to make you uncomfortable enough to look at where you are hooked, and to offer you a seed to sew or throw it to the wind. I trust that whatever is supposed to happen will, and that all who come across this, will know that it is steeped in love and acceptance.

All my love always,

Jess xo

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  • Reply Linnie Wren August 12, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Jess,
    Beautifully said!!!! Passion from the heart like yours is contagious. Your blog was recommended by my meditation teacher ( Suchitra) whom I owe so much to. I can imagine you’re shaking your head affirming my sentiment. The condition of humanity in this country needs some serious HEART. We can no longer wait for someone else to fix things. We need to model for the next generation that we are truly our brothers keeper and what is done to one is done to all. Thank you for your voice and keep on.

    • Reply jessica kelly August 25, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      Linnie, you hit the nail on the head, across the board. So happy to hear that you found Suchitra, and that you are doing the work. Sending you love and so much gratitude. xo <3

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