Hello, friends. What a strange but impactful few weeks it has been.
In the days leading up to last week of May, I had rare bout of anxiety about the world opening up again after the worst of Coronatimes had wound down here in the Czech Republic. When the director of your school e-mails you and starts into “good news! we can go back to school!”, it’s incredibly unsettling because for the previous two months, we had all been unlearning how to be and teach at school. How to do everything from home. How wonderful having no commutes were, let’s be honest.
That first week back, I was a little fearful, not to mention that I didn’t feel comfortable being around other people yet and didn’t want to be there in general. Transitioning to classes with masks and a distance that is definitely less than two meters in some cases – it was a bit tough. I cancelled all of my extra activities and spent my free time sleeping, reading, and sleeping again.
Now, three weeks later I’ve completely adjusted and our new normal feels as normal as it can, which here in South Bohemia, you would barely know we’ve had a global health crisis. One no longer needs a mask, unless they ride public transportation or go into a shop, so often what happens is that you forget and leave the house without even taking one with you. There’s been a soft-reopening of Czech borders with no restrictions necessary, and come Monday, June 15th – we will even be allowed to travel to and from Croatia, Greece and Bulgaria without restriction. It’s been a pleasant realization that there will be some sort of summer holidays abroad after all.
Then at the end of the May, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police was perhaps the last straw as Black America and its allies decided it had had enough of police brutality and took to the streets. Usually on this blog, I write about my expat experiences but this time, my experience as a white American abroad experiencing this huge moment from afar has felt so unimportant compared to the necessity to amplify Black voices and listening to people talk about their own experiences living with systemic racism every day.
Even in our household peaceful, sunny South Bohemia, the mood has definitely felt tenser each day as we wake up to news (often, horrific) from the USA. We, in our household definitely stand with those who are peacefully protesting and demanding much-needed change and reform to our system in which we strongly benefit from our white privilege. (If you would like to know why it’s “Black Lives Matter” and not “All Lives Matter”, this article explains it pretty well)
This conversation doesn’t have to be limited to the USA however, as racism is still unfortunately rampant all over the world. Even though talking to the people around us, our friends, colleagues, neighbors and students here in the Czech Republic about this topic can be exhausting, it is better that we have these discussions on how we can be and do better than to let the burden fall on Black people and People of Color here.
Just in case you weren’t sure how to help the #BlackLivesMatter cause and get involved yourself, check out this page for a number of helpful resources. There is a lot you can do even at home. We’ve got to keep the forward momentum going and keep the pressure on. It’s working.
Just in case anyone is wondering why I am talking about this here other than that this is a huge moment in our history and affects all of us living in the world today regardless of color, I wanted to note that during these times, to not act or speak out against racism is actually an act of complicity. You are either talking about it, in real life and online, or you’re not, but I feel that the silence of white people right now speaks volumes, and that phrasing and words matter. We aren’t all gifted writers or speakers so it can be a little tough or tricky to know how to say the right thing, but the more books and articles we read (Amanda has got a great list of books and films on her blog), the more people we listen to talk about about how we can use our white privilege to lift up Black people and People of Color, the better we’re all going to be and the healing process can start.
I read this essay today – Four Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Hijacking the Conversation on Racial Justice which I thought was incredibly informative and well-written and could be really helpful, especially to those among us who feel strongly and need to process their emotions physically or verbally about what we’ve been seeing or experiencing over the past few weeks.
In other news, in our sleepy little corner of Bohemia, the school year is quickly winding down and my camera roll is filled with happy moments: a beautiful spring walk, Eurovision favorites, a birthday party for all the missed birthdays this past spring. Learning how to skateboard (slow going and with peaks and valleys), June cafe weekday mornings. Bonfires. Rain jackets and umbrellas. Eating all the seasonal fruit! New glasses. Enjoying the We Are One Global Film Festival‘s online streaming films (to be this year’s replacement for Cannes, KVIFF, Biennale, etc), which continues through Saturday. First concerts since lock-down. Farmer’s market mornings. So much living has been happening. Maybe the beautiful moments of this spring need a post of their own – what do you think? There is just so much to post, lately and so little time as I grow busier and busier. Hopefully with summer holidays on their way, a few more posts than usual will squeeze their way through!
I am near ecstatic that we are getting ready to go on our first overnight trip since February! I wanted to go somewhere in the Czech Republic, but staying closer to home in our region was still what I wanted to do until at least July. So, we’ll be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this weekend somewhere nearby. It’s going to be a real vacation, even if only a weekend long, and man, after the last three weeks, I need it.
Hope you’ve all been well, and remember that nothing is hopeless. We can create a better tomorrow for all people. If you have any respectful questions or comments about Black Lives Matter, I’d be glad to try to answer or talk about it. Have a safe and beautiful June weekend.