Time For Change.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK Jr.

 

My heart is so incredibly heavy, and my anxiety is at an all time high. Everything is changing, evolving and manifesting at such a rapid rate that it’s hard for me to keep up and thoroughly process it all.

I’m so proud to be a part of the revolution that’s occurring, one that is far overdue. I’m so proud of my friends of all colors for standing up and saying “enough is enough.” I support, love and cherish each of you wholeheartedly.

I vow to help this fight in any and every way possible, but I’m not going to lie, this is all really overwhelming. Most of the time I can’t even process my own thoughts and feelings, much less those of the whole nation.

I first want to say “I’m sorry” to every POC … every race, gender and ethnicity. I’ve always prided myself on being someone who loves everyone, someone who doesn’t see others by the color of their skin but instead by the beauty of their soul. I look to the inside to get to know someone before coming to any conclusions.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means ( I know I’m far from it), but I’ve tried really hard my entire life to be a genuinely good person. Yet despite all of my good intentions, I’ve failed to act upon my anger and outrage of racism, injustice and the needless loss of human life.

To be honest, I think my reservations have been due to the fact that I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say on the matter. I tried to walk the fine line of not acting like I knew it all while also not condoning these outrageous murders.

Let’s face it, I’m a very white girl.

I grew up in a tiny Texas town where there were literally no Black people, no Hispanic people, no Asian people … just Caucasians. I was never taught racism or given preconceived notions about people of others races, and for that I’m truly grateful to my family.

I was always taught to love everyone regardless of race, religion or politics. However, I think my upbringing also somewhat hindered my understanding of how truly oppressed POC were and still are to this day.

This is no excuse, just fact.

I’m sorry for not truly understanding your struggles, your pain, the fear you face every time you leave your home. I’m sorry that I haven’t used my voice, the privilege I’ve been given just because of the color of my skin, to speak up and fight for you … to fight with you.

I’m sorry that my limited understanding of your hardships may have seemed like ignorance or indifference. I am not indifferent, I am not okay with what is happening and I am using my voice, my platform, to say to you “I HEAR YOU, I LOVE YOU, I WILL FIGHT WITH AND FOR YOU.” 

I truly believe that every human being struggles with something. My struggle isn’t one that can be physically seen but instead is a constant war raging in my mind. Others struggle with addiction, body image, self-love, family issues, and the list goes on and on.

However, I see your pain. I hear your voices. I stand with you. I stand beside you. I am here to love, to support and to fight.

My anxiety has caused me to struggle with this whole situation. It tells me I need to have all the answers before I speak up, before I raise my voice, but I will no longer let the unknown hold me back from screaming my outrage on these matters any longer.

I will not let fear of others’ opinions stop me from expressing myself, from using my rights as an American to fight for justice. I will not allow public judgement to keep me from standing up for my friends and all those that I love.

Listen to me when I say, “YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE HEARD.”

To all of my friends and family in law enforcement, this is not a bashing of you as an individual. I love you, I respect you, I pray for your safety and I’m thankful for the sacrifices you make each and every day. I don’t believe you are all the same, I know your hearts. I do believe that you are sincere in your efforts to help others.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern that’s repeated far too often. We all, not just law enforcement, have to do better. We have to unite and stand together against hate. Every human being, regardless of race or career, has the choice to do good or bad. It’s not about profiling a specific group but instead bringing awareness to all of the injustices that occur every day.

To all of my white friends and family, understand this … silence is now just as condemning as the violence and oppression itself. If we truly love all of God’s children, then we need to use our voice and our privilege we were given the day we were born white.

No, not every white person is racist, not every black person is a thug, not every hispanic person is illegal … we are all beautiful and created equally in the eyes of God. However, our society, our history, has made it so that a white skin tone gets you a louder voice. It gives you the benefit of the doubt. It offers you a safety that POC are not always given.

I pray that we all listen to our POC friends, that we hear what they are saying and instead of being offended, we try to understand their pain. POC are not saying that because you’re white you’re a racist. They’re saying it’s time to start standing up for the oppressed, to start fighting a system that’s been corrupt for far too long.

They’re asking us to speak up, to use our voices for positive change.

I don’t know about you, but one of my lifelong goals has always been to leave a positive impact on the world, to leave this world better than how I found it. This is our chance. This is our moment.

Are we going to stand up for what is right? Are we going to help our brothers and sisters who are asking for and more than willing to accept our support? Or are we simply going to turn off the news, stay off social media and act like the problem doesn’t exist?

To all of my readers, followers, friends and Anxious Minds … please tell me how I can help. Let me know how I can assist in cultivating the change our nation so desperately needs. Educate me, explain to me, show me. As much as I love y’all, I feel as though I still have so much to learn.

I truly pray that we each take some time to research, reflect and process what is happening right now in our world. This is a pivotal moment in our history. This is a change that is long overdue.

This revolution will make history as the time when we unified as a nation and said “no more.” I’m tired of the hate, injustice, inequality, racism, bashing, negativity and senselessly spilled blood.

It’s time we stop talking about it and start taking action. I am with you. I hear you. I will fight with you.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

6 Things You Learn Growing Up In A Small Town.

“Chase your dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again” – Tim McGraw

Growing up, I never realized that my hometown was considered small because Petrolia, TX was the only home I’d ever known.

Everything seemed normal about my hometown. My family lived there, I played sports, I hung out with friends…I pretty much did the same things as every other kid.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and moved away from home that I realized just how small my hometown was. Now, recognizing this fact didn’t change the way I felt about it. If anything, it made me more proud.

For some reason, there’s a stigma associated with being raised in a less populated area. I’ve never really understood this, but it’s definitely a fact.

Somehow, people have developed this preconceived notion that residents of small towns aren’t as smart or educated as the rest of the world which is completely false.

Now I know this isn’t a universal opinion, but it’s definitely a prevalent one. I can’t tell you how many negative reactions I’ve gotten when I tell people where I’m from.

People would look at me like some sad puppy left at the shelter. One time someone even responded with “oh you poor thing.” All I could do was shake my head and walk away.

I wrote this article to correct all the naysayers. I grew up with some amazing friends that supported me no matter what. I was surrounded by my loving family, and I was a part of an incredible church community. I participated in sports, just like “big-city” kids.

I am no different than anyone else.

While I’ve been trying to explain growing up in a small town to my new friends, I’ve realized just how much hometown pride comes with it.

While I don’t see myself ever living in Petrolia again, I will forever be grateful for all the important lessons it’s taught me.

Growing up in a small town, you learn that:

1.) FAMILY IS EVERYTHING

I was so incredibly blessed to have my entire family living within 30 minutes of my house. This allowed us to celebrate birthdays, holidays and even Sunday afternoons together. My family bond is something that has constantly kept me going, and without this upbringing I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.

2.) HOW TO BE SELF SUFFICIENT

In Petrolia, TX we legitimately only have one blinking stoplight so a traffic jam is like 4 cars being stuck behind a tractor on the road. We don’t have a Walmart or Target to run to if we need groceries. There are no restaurants or fast food joints to grab something quick. With this being said, you learn to be extremely self sufficient.


3.)
CREATIVITY

As a kid growing up in a small town, you learn to be really creative. Back in the day, video games weren’t such a big deal. We loved playing outside and riding our bikes.  We used to get together and make crafts, have dance parties and dream about what we’d become when we were older.


4.)
HARD WORK

Petrolia is (as you probably guessed) out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a farming community full of people who’s families have lived there for generations. My dad grew up tending cattle and baling hay on my Grandmother’s land. He would wake up super early, work on the farm, go to school, and come home to more work. Seeing my family and fellow residents work so diligently gave me a great example of commitment.

5.) COMMUNITY

One of the biggest things I learned from my tiny hometown was the importance of community. When tragedy struck, we were always there for one another. When we had victories, we always celebrated together. My town became my family, something I could always count on to be there through the highs and the lows.


6.)
PRIDE

My little town may not be ritzy or be full of fancy mansions and big city malls. The people there may not have the newest clothes or cars. My town may not possess the things that most people consider necessities, but I’m proud to say I grew up here. The pride that I feel is something that some people will never get to experience.

 

So to those who still think small town people are hillbillies or white trash, I have one thing to say…don’t ever dismiss a place until you’ve been there.

I can tell you that you don’t need to feel sorry for me. You don’t need to feel like I’ve been given the short end of the stick just because I didn’t grow up in the big city.

I will forever be grateful for the life lessons, family and friends I was given the day I was born into this wonderful community. I thank everyone who grew up or still resides there for the incredible memories they gave me.

If you ever decide to visit Petrolia, TX just know that you’ll be greeted with a welcoming smile and a handshake from one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋