It Matters to Me

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020 by Jessie Topalov

Last week, I wrote to you about imperfect parenting. It’s my intention to complete this series. This week it was on my schedule to write, “A Juggling Act; Putting Down Busy & Picking up Peace.” While I still think this is a valuable thing to write about, I’d like to write a personal piece in lieu of current events. I hope in some small way this article serves you but this one I needed to write for me.

Black Lives Matter

Photo of woman sitting near river on logOver the course of the last week, we as Americans have watched another tragedy, a murder, take place. George Floyd was an innocent man killed by the hands of a white police officer. It was hate. In relation to this hate, our country is screaming, crying, hurting. The riots are happening to demand change and yet from them, some people are still acting selfishly. The looting and violence do nothing to honor George Floyd but we must remember this ugly behavior is happening to show a pain not healed. Black lives matter.

Blue lives, however, are not all tainted. There are countless good men and women serving us in the police force just doing their part. In the midst of the hurt, you may find yourself taking a side. I beg you, stop. Take a deep breath and open your heart to love. See that the murders cannot continue, the people looting are broken and need your prayers, and change must happen. Do not put another person down. The hate can stop with us. Together we can fight this hate and choose a different way.

In order to find a different way, here is what I implore you to do–look beyond yourself. America and the world would not be in their current states if more people did this. Please, don’t get me wrong; I know there are millions of wonderful people throughout the United States and the world. My concern is that, in some way, selfishness can come for all of us and it can feel overwhelming to make a change that does matter. I do not know all the answers, this I can promise you. What I do know is that if we as Americans were more informed, by making the active choice of informing ourselves, the world could change overnight.

COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter

COVID-19 came to us and fear set in. It’s still here today. The world was asked to stop and in doing so we all had to adjust how we were doing things. We also had to battle the many anxieties the disease brought to each of us. During this time I felt it was a reset for us, for the world. A message from a being greater than all of us to slow down and listen. That the speed and way in which we were living was not sustainable for our planet and good of our race. I’ve seen so many of my friends pick up things they would never have had time for before. Fishing with the kids. Learning to make pancakes. Sewing a new teddy bear. Trying their best to find a way to slow down. It’s beautiful, truly. However, all of my friends hold a similar financial status to me and our basic needs were met.

What about the others? What about the people that, due to COVID, were desperate to get their basic needs met? Or those struggling with domestic violence? Or those dealing with safety in their neighborhoods? My sister Kristen stated, “This pandemic is the closest thing I’ve experienced to being scared for my life and the life of my family–to even leave the house. And it’s not discriminatory or based on anything about me that I can’t change. I’m over it and it’s been 2.5 months. I cannot imagine what it’s like for black communities and other people of color. To live like this their whole lives? It’s bullshit.”

Yes, the world slowed down and from it I believe we were asked to truly look at how we were living and consuming. To me, with evidence from our planet, our current way of life is not sustainable. The riots are telling us something else is also not sustainable; racism and hate. It’s tragic to simply have to write that. I had the police talk with my son Dametrius yesterday because he is bi-racial. You know the speech? “Hands up when you get pulled over, do whatever they say, try to record the situation if this ever happens to you.” My heart was breaking, I was crying. Dametrius? He shook it off. “Yea I already know this, can I go play Fortnite?” How is this acceptable that he lives in a world where this is second nature? Also in one where I can tell you, “you know the speech?”

Consumerism & Selfishness in America

To me, this goes beyond race and class. It goes to the larger problem of, “it’s not me, it’s not my problem”. But this is our problem. All of this matters to me. It matters to me who manufactures my clothing and shoes because I don’t want to wear child labor on my back. It matters to me how animals are raised before slaughter. Prior to COVID, I ate local meat. We are now vegetarian in response to the treatment of immigrant workers in meatpacking plants. Follow Michael Pollen now to understand this more.

Also know meatpacking factories have the highest COVID death rate in the United States and its immigrants that are dying. It’s not OK with me that technicians at the nail salons work 100+ hour weeks using American names. But if we stopped going they wouldn’t have jobs, so what is the balance? It matters to me that people still go to puppy stores and those puppies come from puppy mills. Don’t you see it? The list goes on and on. Everything that matters to me is driven by the dollar? Each dollar that you and I spend fuels hateful industries and also lines the pockets of our elected officials.

Consumerism has a cost. A huge one. Each dollar we spend tells a Corporation or local business, “yes I like what you do/have.” Corporations grow, make more money, and with that money buy out our elected officials; giant corporations are essentially making our decisions for us. And here we are today. With a government not addressing racism or murder, and driving an economy that actively causes harm to others.

I realize I’m most likely not going to be the most popular person for writing this. Like I said before, that’s OK. It’s in my heart and I need to say it. What I’d like to communicate most though is a plea. A plea to see things from the perspective of your brothers and sisters from every walk of life. Change must come.

That change begins with you and me. Pay attention and stop this nonsense of turning a blind eye. Stop buying products that hurt others. Start voting in your local elections. Demand a zero-tolerance policy nationwide to address murders based on race. And offer a helping hand to anyone who needs it. A seed planted that is nourished in love is a fruit that always blossoms. Oh won’t you blossom with me?

From my aching heart,
Jessie

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