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Baltimore and the Pink Chair

When riots broke out in Baltimore, I didn’t know. I wasn’t on my computer that day.
I spent the day picking out paint for my daughter’s desk and chair. My mom and I put our best pinterest-y skills to work mixing up chalk paint and then turning my childhood white desk into a bright pink for my pink-loving daughter.
The next day was my son’s seventh birthday. Again, I neglected the computer and turned my attention to celebrating him. I made a Lego cake. I wrapped presents. I hung a banner. And when my son came home from school, we sang and watched him blow out the candles.
Friday morning, my parents got in their car to make the long journey home. And I hopped online at last to catch up on what was going on in the world, and, more specifically, in Baltimore.
The truth is—I was uneasy about those days off of the Internet. I knew important things were happening and that I was ignorant.
I’ve been in a learning posture of late, seeking to understand more about the experiences of people of color in our country, and hoping to be a seeker of justice. I’ve been reading, listening, and learning.
A trusted friend and colleague told me recently that timing is everything—that failure to comment quickly on events in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, and Baltimore screams that I don’t care or that black lives don’t matter to me. That silence speaks volumes.
I can understand that. One friend I know is passionate about posting many articles as information becomes available. He informs his followers, challenging them to engage.
And I’m thankful for him. Because when I finally did open my computer that Friday, I knew just where to turn. He had posted 40 times in 24 hours with quotes, articles, opinions, and more.
I don’t want to ignore injustice in our country. I don’t want to be ignorant of the suffering of others, especially when their suffering is related to their ethnicity. I want to help fight for justice.  And part of that is bringing issues to light and building awareness.
But I’m fooling myself if I think awareness is enough to create change. I can’t be the person who reads and shares online about racial bias and believes she has done her duty. I can’t pride myself that I’ve posted an article quickly enough that others believe I care.
Real change happens not just when I recognize that I experience white privilege, but when I take steps in my own life and community to break down racial barriers. I must invest in relationships on my block and in my community, not just online.
I didn’t read about Baltimore until several days late. My tardy posts revealed that I didn’t drop everything to do so. Perhaps this is because I’m white. But I’d also like to think it’s because the way we live in our homes and with our families matters too. I want to invest in my children in word and in deed, so that they too see my passion for justice. We must enact justice as a family, not just online. And sometimes investment in these little ones under my care looks like a Lego cake and a pink chair.
Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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