‘Thank you, Sabrina, for starting this conversation’

| 24 Jun 2020 | 01:23

    Dear Sabrina,

    Words are powerful as evidenced by your heartfelt letter. Thank you for sharing your story.

    It gives me pause - how do we do better as individuals and as a community?

    I have recently retired from a 38-year career as a flight attendant. Over the years, there have been countless times when I’ve been in the cockpit or a galley and overheard racist “jokes” or disparaging comments (of course they were never in the presence of our Black colleagues). Shame on me for not always speaking up.

    I’ve spent many hours sitting on jump seats long into the night listening to friends tell me what it is like to have that conversation with their sons about the police - “keep your head down - don’t answer back.” And worrying about them being at the local playground playing ball, or playing at the park with their friends. And worrying about them coming home at all.

    And no, I can never fully understand because it has never been my reality. As a white mother, I have never had to contemplate those issues. I have never had to do the hard work. Granted, living in Warwick is worlds away from city life, and often feels removed from all of this. It’s why so many of us have moved to this beautiful town.

    But your letter Sabrina brings it home. Racism is pervasive and insidious. The white people in this community, myself included, can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist here. We need to look inside ourselves and acknowledge it in our own lives and strive not to just be better but to do better.

    You asked us to have the hard conversations with our friends, family, and neighbors. I am pledging to do this, and will hold people accountable for their words and actions.

    Because words hurt but they also have the power to heal. This is only the beginning of my journey to deepen my self-awareness of racism.

    Thank you for starting this conversation, and I hope all of Warwick will join in.

    Your neighbor,

    Joannie Reil