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Being Here

with Molly Barker

Finding Joy

I have been working and playing and dancing and crying in this space of listening and healing and holding people…my whole life. 

First with little girls in Girls on the Run. 

As time went on I learned quickly that big people need healing and holding and listening too. 

And here’s the thing. 

In all that listening and holding and loving I sometimes forget the people closest to me. I sometimes forget that peace begins at home. I sometimes forget to look my own two children in the eyes and say to them, “You matter to me and this world. I appreciate you for the human being you are.”

This has been a tumultuous week for so many. And when I read the news this morning I am again overcome with sorrow for what’s happening in Charlotte, Washington…our presidential election, the world. It feels messy and joyless and mean. 

I am learning though that to postpone joy…to infinitely carry the burden of all that sorrow with me, isn’t good for me or the people around me. I am learning that holding that space of sorrow or pain or anger doesn’t mean letting it get stuck…because tucked into all that yearning for love and being heard and mattering is also a yearning for joy. 

I am in Lancaster, PA and last night at an event I asked the audience the question I’ve come to love “How are you going to let people know they matter? Give me specifics.”

People began sharing…and then Eva raised her hand. Eva is four years old. She has cascading curls of brown and black hair, cherry-red cheeks and eyes that sparkle. I was surprised that she, at such a young age, understood my question. 

“What’s your name,” I asked. 

“Eva,” she said with a giggly smile on her face. 

“Eva, how are you going to let people know they matter?” 

Without skipping a beat, she said, “Be kind.”

We looked at each other for a long, long time. 

“Eva,” I asked. “What does being kind look like?”

“Giving hugs to people.”

Later that evening Maddie and I were talking and we decided that right now what the world needed was a little Joyful Girl Power. 

So…here you go. 

First, to my son, James Henry Barker, on your 21st birthday…I love you. You are joy incarnate. You are the man this world yearns for…loving, strong, peaceful and protective. I am crazy about you. 

To Eva…one day you will grow up and do great things because you are kind and you hug people. This is truth. Keep it simple. Just do that. 

To Maddie who thinks the world needs some Girl Power. I couldn’t agree more sister. So how about you and I and all the girls of this world get out there and do our thing.​

Stay With Me

So listen. Don’t go away. I am for you and me. I am for us. 

And because you know me…you know that my heart is open and so too is my mind. 

So listen up. When I share things…things that make you uncomfortable…please stay with me. I’ve learned that discomfort is where growth starts…where change begins. 

I live in Charlotte and last night I went uptown and listened.

To the beautiful young man (boy really…he was probably 17). His face covered by a handkerchief in case there was tear gas…

Who when asked, “Do you feel there is hope?”…his desperate sigh and mournful response. “No. No I don’t. There is no hope left.”

To the young female carrying a big pink sign that said “Love all”. She was quick to hug the police officers and national guard soldiers. She hugged me too. 

“Share the love,” she cried. “Unity for all.”

To the elders and pastors…standing strong in their crisp dark suits, quoting Martin Luther King and speaking their angry truth with passion and compassion, their hearts abounding with big, big Love. 

I am learning and seeing and understanding now…that there is as much variation about what folks think has to happen to bring about the change needed…among my black friends as there are my white friends…so I encourage you…on behalf of the beautiful boy who felt no hope…or the young girl shouting “Love All” to realize this with me…to stop using the words “they” or “them” or “the black community” when referencing all black protesters/black people. 

I will do the same and I beg you to call ME out like my good friend Trent Merchant did this morning. 

Start there. Begin easy.

This is big stuff. People are dying. 

I also recognize that I have much to learn. It can be scary having these conversations and trying to understand all the complexities of what’s happening in Charlotte. 

And so I offer myself to you. I’m happy to sit down with anyone who wants to just talk about this stuff. I have many black friends who are happy to sit down too. Just one on one if you want. 

Coffee is a good place to start.  

There really is nothing to fear when these questions are asked with curiosity and a desire for understanding.

So stay with me. I am your friend and worry sometimes you will leave me.

Charlotte Protests: Wednesday Night

This man is Toussaint Romain. He is a very good friend of mine. He is a man who sat down with me nearly two years ago and told me to never let the color of my skin…dim my passion for standing up and speaking up with people of color. 


He was one of the first to serve on The Red Boot Coalition board. 

Toussaint…brother…I think you are one of the bravest and most passionate humans I know. I love you so much. I stand with you. 

Detective Garry McFadden…I know you are there. I know you wear the blue and I know that you love so big. Please be safe. I love you so much my heart aches with it. I stand with you. 

And then of course…there’s Antonio Baldwin. Many of you may know him as my garbage collector. I know him as one of my best friends in the whole universe. He is a Red Boot Guide. He is uptown now…called in…the garbage trucks are being used as barricades. I hold you in peace. I hold you in safety. I stand with you. 

And of course my good friend Robert Cannon…first responder and fire department captain. We’ve known each other a long, long time. He and others are on call…been on call for 24 hours…exhausted but ready to assist when they can. You are so brave and so compassionate. I stand with you. 

Jennifer Watson Roberts…our Charlotte Mayor. Sister. I hold you up on this night. I hear the fatigue in your voice. I do not know how you are managing all of this. I have known you since we were children. I know your heart. I know your spirit. You’ve got this. I stand with you. 

To Makeda T. Pennycooke…sister…be safe. Be smart. I stand with you. 

It’s time we get to know each other. As people. As friends. 

Because when we do…this shit gets real…real quick.
http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/21/us/public-defender-toussaint-romain-charlotte-protests/index.html

Charlotte Protests: Thursday Night

I have spent the last 3 hours in uptown Charlotte at the protests with my friend Toussaint Romain. 

I marched with black and white and brown Charlotteans and I cried when I saw the cops…oh how I yearn for their safety too…I even hugged a few. 

The National Guard is everywhere. I asked a young female National Guard officer if she ever got afraid…she was smaller than me and she said, “I’ve been well trained. So no. I am not afraid.”

I sit now in my car in a parking lot a block away and yearn for her courage. The helicopters are overhead. There is an eery anticipation of something. I understand for a fleeting moment what it must feel like to be afraid because I am different…because I do not know this world. 

The night is not over. Not at all. 
But my fear and the fact that I am on a 7 30 flight tomorrow got the best of me. It was probably more the fear though if I’m really honest. 

Toussaint challenged me to examine that fear. To seek its source. 

And so let me tell you…tell you how scared I was to go. Scared based on what I’ve seen in our media. Scared that maybe I would die. 

I’m embarrassed to tell you that somehow it became about me…this selfish fear of mine and then I remember my friend Toussaint who stood courageously last night between the police and the protestors…keeping the peace. 

I yearn to be more like him…to stand for peace like he does. 

I spoke with many folks. 

But there was one conversation in particular. A young, beautiful fair-skinned black woman, six feet tall. I had noticed her earlier. 

She was filled with rage. Her voice was hoarse from all the yelling. Her vocal cords, stripped of their power. She wore a handkerchief over most of her face. She was tall. Her eyes a beautiful shade of green. She wore camo pants and an orange shirt. 

We made eye contact.

“I want to ask you a question.”

“Go ahead,” she said. 

“What can I do to help. What can I do?”

“Raise your children to not be racists. You are white. You have all the power. Teach them to not be racist.”

I am back in the comfort of my car…and wonder as I write…if she remembers me and how long we looked at one another.

Be That. 

I have to speak today. 

It is my birthday. I am so grateful for the kind and loving comments. They warm my heart. I love all of you. 

And just a few miles away…my city…the city where I was born is crying to be seen, heard, understood. 

A black man is dead…police officers are injured. 

Last night moments BEFORE the shooting occurred, I reached out to my friend Patricke Ward. 

He is on The Red Boot Coalition Board. 
He is courageous. He is bold. He is honest. He is compassionate. He is loving. He is Black. 

I asked him, “If I can get a meeting with our Chief of Police…will you go with me to see him? Our police need Red Boot. Our neighborhoods need Red Boot. 

Perhaps they could use it internally or invite folks in their precinct to do the meetings with them.”  

He said he would be up for that. 

And so I’m committed to this. Whether this actually happens or not, I cannot predict. But I do know…because I have experienced it first hand and because Patricke is my friend..that while our hearts here are breaking…there is also hope.  

There is always hope. 

There are the listeners, the doers, the lovers and the bridge builders. 
And so my plea to you this morning…is to go into your own world and be one of those. 


Cuz Lord knows…people are dying to be heard, seen…to be loved.

Interviewing My Son 

I had so much fun interviewing my son…using some Red Boot Coalition questions. 

Enjoy. 
(I believe you need to have a Facebook profile to have access to this video.)

Twenty Years Ago

Happy Birthday Girls on the Run!!!!

Thanks to the beautiful Sarah Schweppe. She was in my first GOTR group. 

I want to be honest with you about this. I asked some fun questions and some emotional ones. Sarah and I were both surprised by how emotional we got. We both decided it was cool to keep up and okay to show our emotional sides.  

I have stayed in touch with Sarah over the years…we’ve run into each other at various events. She is a wonderful person and not only someone I love dearly…but someone I like a lot.
(I believe you need to have a Facebook profile to view this video.)

Listening 

What a great night. If you have a minute or 90 (!) check it out. 
Rose Hamid joined me in this conversation. If you do not know who Rose is…please google her!
http://youtu.be/UNjlrHovLkM
What a great night!

Bran or Chocolate? 

I’ve decided that life is like this. 

There’s a tray with two types of muffins. 

Chocolate or bran. 

At any one moment I have the choice. 

Chocolate or bran?

I used to think that it was an “or” kind of thing. 

Now I know it’s an and. 

I can have both and be a lot happier.

It’s all about a balanced approach. Sometimes I choose this…And sometimes I choose that…but over time it all works out pretty nicely.

(Lol)

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