My city burned last night. A peaceful protest highlighting the systemic injustices that led to the vicious murder of George Floyd descended into complete anarchy. As we sat watching the news late into the early morning hours, I was struck by fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of having no control.

How can any of this be fixed??

As a mom to six young kids, there is only so much I can DO. I can’t take off at a moment’s notice to protest in the streets. I’m not keen on running for political office right now. However, I can raise six imperfect humans to stand up for what’s right and against what is wrong. That is what I can DO right now, at this very moment in time.

One thing I’m definitely not doing is riling myself and others up on social media. In my understanding, social media is a vapid and empty place of protest for the vast majority. It has become the perfect place for people to lazily think they are making change when, in fact, not much is accomplished. Its easy to chirp from a perch of privilege when no real work is required. Its easy to re-post a meme that inadequately breaks complex topics into flashing quips. Its easy to have a righteous opinion when nothing more is demanded. Making real change happen is not easy, though.

I believe the first step towards change happens in our own backyards. We are fortunate to live in a racially, culturally and economically diverse neighborhood. This is not coincidence. We chose to live here. We choose to live here. As a family, we have organic conversations about race and inequality born out of our daily observations. Rather than react behind a computer screen, we can actively participate in cool organizations like My Block My Hood My City and Art on Sedgwick. We haven’t run away from the problems because we want to be a part of the solution.

Today, while the city smoldered and shopkeepers began the laborious process of sweeping up shards of glass, the kids and I talked about all that happened to bring the city to its knees last night. They understand why many of our friends and neighbors feel like second-class citizens. They understand Chicago wasn’t the only city to suffer. They understand there are wide-reaching problems we ALL need to address. They understand. I hope.

I couldn’t do nothing today. The sun is shining, after all! So the kids and I stepped through our backyard and into the diverse neighborhood we love. We brought garbage bags and walked to the messiest street . With a neighbor and her two nephews, we filled TEN garbage bags. I know picking up trash in the neighborhood won’t fix all these problems, and I know it won’t bring George Floyd back to his family. But, I feel like we made a difference in our own backyard. And, maybe that matters even a little bit.

We decided we’ll do a regular “Sunday Morning Clean Up Crew” to not only tidy the neighborhood, but interact with our neighbors in a meaningful way. Maybe this humble movement has the potential to grow and give us a time and a place to make things better. Even a little bit.

It feels good to DO.

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