Just Listen

posted by Momo Fali on November 25, 2014

I didn’t grow up with black friends. I lived in a white suburb, surrounded by white neighbors. I don’t remember a single person of color in my elementary school and there were only a handful in my very large high school. I’ve worked with one black man in my entire career.

After my husband and I got married, I gained a black niece and her four children have become my great-niece and nephews. Through blogging, I have met some of the most thought-provoking women (and men) of color. These people, this family, and community is mine, regardless of the shade of their skin. Where I came from and what I experienced growing up no longer matter.

Right now, these friends are hurting. People act out because they are hurting. Just the other day, I was slamming doors and drawers and I actually punched a wall because I was hurting. It is not fair for me to judge others for their reaction to pain.

My niece and friends live in fear for their sons’ lives and my heart is breaking. I’m not even talking about the people protesting in Ferguson, I’m talking about my family across town and my friends in Cincinnati, Chicago, New York, Houston, Albany, Austin, Atlanta, and every other city across the United States. These are American mothers and fathers who go to work, love their families, and shouldn’t have to live under a different system than white people. It’s really that simple.

But, of course, it’s not simple.

At church last week, the homily was about treating every person you come in contact with as if they were Jesus. It’s hard not to gossip, judge, and be open to new thoughts; I know I am guilty of it. But, don’t we owe it to these young people in our midst to try? Just listen to the stories. Really listen. Without judgment. That should be simple enough. It’s a start, at least.

Just because I was privileged enough to be born with white skin doesn’t make me privileged enough to not care.

My great-nephews lives may depend upon it.


  • Melisa

    Well done. Thank you for writing this today. Adding it to my round-up. xoxo

  • Liz

    Growing up as one of only a handful of white folks, and with both parents speaking with heavy accents, I feel it safe to say that the world could do without s lot less judgement. A whole lot less. Thanks for sharing this, Momo.

    • Liz

      Growing up as one of a handful of white folks in my neighborhood…even. Because typing passionately on my phone, using only one man-finger, is hard…YO!

  • Shannon

    True words. No one should be above caring about others. Grateful to join you in this difficult discussion.

  • Jennifer Flueckiger

    good for you, Diane! Well said.

  • Toni

    Oh Momo.
    It is absolutely surreal to me that I have to be scared for my son in law and grandchildren. But I am. And so I pray, and knowing that many others do helps. XO

  • Laura in Little Rock

    My formative years, 5th-10th grades, were spent in the lily white rural school district of Southern Gothic vintage surrounded by school districts that weren’t 100% white. So you know where all the most bigoted people made sure their children attended school. Going to school daily with people that seemed otherwise pleasant but were so ignorant, so poverty stricken and so bigoted against EVERYONE that didn’t fit into their poor white trash anglo saxon protestant belief system. It was eye-opening.
    Then I left and went to a state-wide magnet school for 11-12th grades and Yay! there were black kids and brown kids and asians and hindus and jewish kids and catholic kids and a few professing Wicca or staunch atheists. Still I feel uncomfortable and that I should do something, anything for having somewhat passively accepted my totally exclusionary upbringing.

  • AlisonH

    Thank you so much. The world needs to read this, think this, feel this, live this. Well said.

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