We want to acknowledge Juneteenth this weekend in a big way.
Dominic and I have a very personal story we want to share from our hearts.
This might be confronting to hear for some, and comforting to hear for others, but when we shared this story with a friend yesterday, he emailed to tell us the following day that, as a white man, it changed his life. Wow... You never know the true impact of what you share with others—this was a powerful example. Knowing full-well how my husband felt about it, I had to get his blessing to please allow it to be shared on a bigger scale.
Let me just say that my husband is very private, and this is a deeply personal story to him. He feels extremely embarrassed by the story, and I will explain that more later. In addition, after that I will tell you what happened when he recently shared this very private story with my brother. So I want to acknowledge and thank him here for being brave and vulnerable during this time to share because as a black man, being vulnerable isn't as easy. I hope his vulnerability allows some people out there to understand what it feels like to be a black man in America.
Let me preface this by saying this isn't going to be short and sweet. It's detailed and goes on. If you don't have time to read now that's OK. This is some serious personal, deep sharing from our hearts so I suggest you stop reading NOW if your mind isn't ready for that in this moment. Maybe later you'll think about going back to this because all this heavy stuff is just stressing you out - I understand Covid and our social unrest has us all feeling the feels. Hence the feels I'm sharing with you now.
So the story goes.....
A few years back I came home from a medical procedure and started to feel really ill. I was in the bathroom and all of a sudden felt like I was about to pass out. I yelled for my husband as I fainted and fell off the toilet bowl. He called 911 in a panic. When the firemen arrived I started to 'come to' as they were picking me up to put me on the stretcher. I realized one of the firemen was pulling my pants up because they were still down from when I fainted off the bowl. As out of it as I was, I remember thinking OMG, I'm absolutely mortified my private parts are exposed. Later on, when all was clear and I was ok, we talked and laughed that my pants were still down AND that he didn't flush the toilet, that he just left me there, ha, ha, ha, so funny!!!!
And what I share here next I really want you to read with an open heart and pause.
I found out why my husband didn't pick up my pants or flush the toilet -- because, his exact words, "I was afraid if you died, they'd blame me, so I didn't want to touch you or mess with what could possibly be the evidence in a crime scene."
Please PAUSE and re-read that....actually let me just make it easy and repeat it
"I was afraid if you died, they'd blame me..." — because I'm BLACK — "...so I didn't want to touch you or mess with what could possibly be the evidence in a crime scene."
I was absolutely heartbroken. This thought crossed my intelligent, strong, loving, beautiful, caring husband's mind?? It brings tears when I share the story. What's more heartbreaking is that he is embarrassed to share this because he allowed that concern to override his wanting to kneel down and help the woman he loves.
So I ask this simple question to all the white people out there - would you ever consider this for a moment as a white person if this was your husband or wife passed out on the ground in your OWN home?
We all know the answer to that is NO.
And this, my friends, is white privilege.
That this thought would NEVER cross our minds in this situation IS a privilege!!!!
And now we get to part 2
I wish this was where the story ended, but this is where it gets just a little deeper. Stay with me if you can a little bit more. You've come this far. Because what I want to share with you is that even in a very loving, diverse family you can find out hard truths and differences about your loved ones coming up now that you had no idea about and they need to be shared so we all can grow and learn.
Right as the first hints of Covid starting to get more serious at the end of February, we were on a business trip in northern California and were able to see my brother who lives close by. Politics and things came up with all that was just starting to go on with Covid and Trump's handling of the matter. We segued to talking about how Trump's divisive rhetoric affects immigrants, women, and minorities which led to us sharing the 'pants down' story with my brother.
As you now know from what I shared earlier, my husband feels deeply embarrassed to share this story but he did with my brother, and what he had to endure as a response was heartbreaking. My brother dismissed any notion that this episode said anything about white privilege. He just couldn't 'see it' and his dismissal of my husband's pain hurt me to my core. My brother doesn't believe in this 'white privilege,' and it would take pages to go on about the very lengthy, heated talk we had. We all hugged it out as he was leaving, but it left me so sad. And over the next couple weeks I started to feel strange that I hugged it out. I want to remain loving and with an open heart to different opinions, even with opinions I find reprehensible...so I'm struggling on how to still reconcile that as I write this.
As the past few months have unfolded I decided I had to go back to this unresolved feeling and tell my brother in a more serious, loving tone how sad I felt by what he shared. I told him how much I love him, and that if he wasn't my brother I would likely distance myself from him as a friend. I told him I prayed that he could open his heart to understand this more.
I don't know what I expected him to say—well, actually why do we say that? Because I do know. I expected him to say something like: "I can see what Dominic was saying when you guys were here, I get it now. I'm so sorry I didn't understand before and I really want to apologize to Dominic." Instead I got back a scathing txt message. I'm sharing these excerpts that came back verbatim to openly hope that this leads to deeper learning, love and growth from this.
"I get it, your emotional about this, but you, and I take it Dominic as well, it seems, don't look at the facts. I thought it was rich that Dominic, a successful man, NOT A SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN, was espousing such during our conversation. This is the core problem he, and I guess you both, have: That you think black people are different than white people, and are treated differently because of their race/skin color. Some people (races) will always treat some people (races) differently, but stop painting me and every other white person with a 10 mile wide white privilege brush. And please don't give me the boiler plate retort. I've never looked at Dominic as "a black man" any more than I've looked at Jose as "a brown man." I look at both of them as men, men whom my sisters love and who are good people."
"Anyone," he continued, "especially in this country, can rise above any of that with clarity, hard work, determination, etc. Be that Michael Jordan, Sean Combs, Barack Obama, Dominick Sinesio, or people u probably have never heard of ....until now, so look them up: Roger Ferguson, Ken Chenault, Ursula Burns, Jim Reynolds, Ken Simmons" etc, etc...
In between this were paragraphs and paragraphs of upset, and also very loving sentiments mixed in with 'facts' about other successful black men and police killing stats...but I'll spare you all that because I want to focus on the core of white privilege.
My brother couldn't empathize or understand my husband's point of view. He just had to come back and double down with 'facts' and anger. I wished he said "I'm so sorry you felt like that Dominic." Of course he can't imagine it. Because, as a white man, it's literally so foreign to him. He actually thinks black men like Sean Combs somehow 'skipped' racism because they're so successful. What I see is that they are successful IN SPITE of the disgusting racism they endure. Racism doesn't skip him or any other successful black man.
And again—AGAIN—I failed my husband by not saying this in that moment. Instead I txt my brother a short response, again trying to hold a loving space while fighting my own anger and frustration. I could have taken a stand with love and strength.
What I could have said was:
"How DARE you for one second, how DARE you not see my husband as a "SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN" how dare you not recognize his blackness, and make him small and not acknowledge that he has had to work 10xs harder to be successful. So yes he is a SUCCESSFUL BLACK MAN so you BETTER see my husband's black skin!!!!!!!!"
But I didn't. So I want to say to my beautiful BLACK husband Dominic that I WILL DO BETTER. I'm shouting it out to the world that I must learn more, and I'm sorry for failing you, and I ask the world to join me in doing the same for the people they love. Take a stand for them and share your stories with the hashtag #IWILLDOBETTER
With all that said, Dominic and I, in honor of Juneteenth want to try and raise $50,000 for the NAACP this weekend and need you to join us to make this happen.
We thought what a better way to do this than to do a special HUGE sale on the first product that Dominic and I designed together last year under our new line Crystals for Humanity, which is our #1 selling reusable crystal straw. We were thinking people can drink in all the love, protection, and healing because right now our world is in need of much higher vibes!!!
Our goal is to sell 5,000 of our straws to donate $50,000 to the NAACP
Normally they are $40, but for the first time ever on our site in order to make this goal of 5,000 straws we are selling them at 50% off for $20 through this weekend. We're hoping this amazing sale price will inspire you to buy to support the NAACP and to simultaneously help a small husband and wife owned minority business that's been greatly affected by the pandemic.
How it works:
Put your straw in your cart.
Enter code JUNETEENTH for 50% off of any of the 9 different straws we designed.
$10 from every $20 sale will go to the NAACP, and if we exceed our goal of 5,000 straws this weekend we will continue to contribute more. I ask all of you to forward this and share as much as possible to help us achieve this together. When we hand over the check to the NAACP we will write a letter to send with the donation—which will be in each and every one of YOUR names—and I will share that with all of you.
Phew....if you got to the end here, we just want to say thank you so much for letting us share our story with you and taking the time to read all of this. We hope we can make an impact that helps.
With love, light & the best vibes ever,
Dominic & Anjanette Sinesio