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  • Erin Coles

Learning to Have the Hard Conversations

This is my beautiful black husband ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝโค๏ธ He's strong, kind, caring, thoughtful, and super duper smart. He has a bachelor's degree, 2 masters degrees (including an MBA), and is Doctor of Education in Music. He's a performer, musician, and educator. He loves mac and cheese and sweets, and still sends me love letters in the mail. ๐Ÿ’Œ

Every single time he leaves the house, I worry. Normal things that I personally don't have to worry about - like going for a run, heading out to the store, or playing music out loud - could be the end of the line for him. How freaking terrifying is that?

Every time another incident of racial injustice pops up in the news, we can both feel the collective heaviness on our hearts, and in our house - but we often don't talk at length about it. We watch the videos and news on our own, cry to ourselves, and might exchange a few words about how we're feeling. But we sort of keep our deep feelings to ourselves. You might think that because we're an interracial couple, we talk about these things often. But we just don't.

This week was different. We talked about #GeorgeFloyd and the incident in Central Park. And let me tell you, the conversations we had were not easy. And to be honest, one reason the conversation was so difficult to have is that I still feel insecure having a conversation about race. It's uncomfortable, difficult, and upsetting. And as a person who shies away from confrontation and difficult conversations, or worries I'm going to say something the "wrong way," or in a way that will upset someone else - I've been avoiding these necessary conversations for too long.

I came to a big realization - not only after talking to Drew, but after confiding in some close friends and asking their advice - that we can only learn how to have these tough conversations by ACTUALLY having them. White people, if you want to be an ally, a support, and an advocate, you actually need to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We've had the choice to live in our comfortable, safe space for a long time now (meaning forever). Black people don't have that choice. So this is our opportunity to reach out, read, learn, share, and start having the difficult conversations about race. Why? So you can learn HOW to talk about race, and racial violence, so you can understand what it actually means to have privilege and take advantage of that privilege, and so you can learn how to truly be an ally in the fight.

Let's be honest, I still don't know how to talk about all of this, but I'm darn sure going to keep learning, asking questions, and having uncomfortable conversations. My husband, my family, my future babies, and all of our beautiful black brothers and sisters deserve to live a full life, without fear that they're going to lose their lives simply because their skin is brown. โค๏ธ


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