Country star Thomas Rhett and his wife — social-media guru and author Lauren Akins — are just two of the Nashville celebrities speaking out in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers. And they’re not shying away from “picking a side.”
Writing on Instagram Sunday (May 31), the famous couple speak passionately about ending prejudice — but not in an abstract way. They speak from their real lives as parents to three children, including daughter Willa Gray, who was adopted from Uganda.
“We have navigated forms of racism directly and while there is mostly overwhelming support and love for our family, sometimes there is just the opposite,” Rhett opens up.
“Because of that fear, it can be a lot easier to choose silence, but today I’m choosing to speak.”
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As the father of a black daughter and also two white daughters- I have struggled with what to say today. We have navigated forms of racism directly and while there is mostly overwhelming support and love for our family, sometimes there is just the opposite. Because of that fear, it can be a lot easier to choose silence, but today I’m choosing to speak. I have no clue what it feels like to be profiled by authorities, treated negatively or have my life threatened because of the color of my skin. When I witnessed the horrific murder of George and think about the mistreatment of other black men and women in America, I am heartbroken and angry. I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate. To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings. I have witnessed my black band and crew members on the road struggle at times with feeling safe because of the color of their skin. This is unacceptable. I don’t believe in hate. I believe in love. What happened to George was pure hate. We are all created by the same God. I pray for a change in heart of those hearts who have been overcome by hatred and hardened. I pray for a deeper understanding for myself and awareness of the experience of mistreatment that those of another skin color go through. I pray for the families of those who have lost their lives to violence or experienced trauma at the hand of racial oppression and injustice. What can we do? I ask myself this question everyday. We each have to be part of the solution and we have to continue to educate ourselves, continue to support both financially and with service those organizations doing good work in our communities to overcome injustice and hatred in our country. And if you’re like me, continue to pray. So if there is any question on where I stand let me be clear- I stand with you, I stand with George and his family and all those who have faced racism. I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives. Rest In Peace, George. We are not letting this go.
Explaining that even though he will never know what it’s like to be profiled for the color of his skin, Rhett says he still sees it happen to friends and bandmates, and feels it’s his job as a father to teach his daughters how to overcome. “What happened to George was pure hate,” he writes, noting that he will continue to pray for families traumatized by racism around the world.
“So if there is any question on where I stand let me be clear — I stand with you, I stand with George and his family and all those who have faced racism,” Rhett writes. “I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives.
Rest In Peace, George. We are not letting this go.”
Meanwhile, Akins took an even more personal approach — promising she will fight not just for her daughters’ justice, but for the justice of others as well.
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I have been nervous to post anything in the past and even now because of how some people believe that I as a white mother am undeserving or incapable of raising a black daughter. I believe that shaming comes from people who choose to see only my white skin and her brown skin and refuse to see our hearts and love for each other. That shaming has created such anxiety in me that I am afraid to share my heart on social media. But as her mother, I want her to be VERY sure that I am HER mother who stands up not only for her, but for every single person who shares her beautiful brown skin. I want to be her mother who raises her to know what it means to have brown skin and to be proud of it. I want to be her mother who doesn’t listen to the shaming of skin colors but instead listens to the Spirit of God who knitted every skin color together in their mother’s womb for His glory. Because the truth is: I AM HER mother who FIGHTS for her. I am her mother who celebrates not only WHO she and her two sisters are, but WHOSE they are and exactly who God created them to be. It’s hard for me to sort out what it is I want to say to her, and what it is I want to say to the rest of the world. I do think there are parts of my heart that can be shared with the world publicly, but then there are parts of my heart that should be kept here at home just for her and all of my children. However, I do believe I’m being disobedient to God if I don’t speak up against injustice and fight for change. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying my brothers and sisters. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying my daughter. I believe if I stay silent I am betraying the heart of God. Don’t stay silent. Fight. Use the most powerful weapon of all: love. Look to the One who created that weapon and follow His lead. Together, let’s be an army for love. That means speaking up loudly for injustices whether or not we share the same skin color, language, beliefs…the list goes on. I want my children to cling to the good. Love, peace, kindness, joy. I want them to BE the good. Injustice is evil. It breaks the heart of God. I pray He breaks every one of our hearts over this injustice until He returns.
“[A]s her mother, I want her to be VERY sure that I am HER mother who stands up not only for her, but for every single person who shares her beautiful brown skin,” she says. “I want to be her mother who raises her to know what it means to have brown skin and to be proud of it.”