Our human compassion binds us the one to the other—not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
When I lived in Ohio back in the ‘90s, my mom, brothers, and I were walking into a store inside Salem Mall in Dayton. An elderly white man stopped my mom and asked her if we were her children. In her broken English, she answered yes with a smile. He asked her why she would choose to ruin “their” race having kids “like that.’ He walked away angrily as my mom and I stood there not quite understanding what had just happened.
I remember saying, “Did he just ask you why you ruined your race?” With a pained smile, my mom quickly changed the subject and hurried me inside the store to meet up with my brothers. This was only one of many similar incidents that happened during the years we lived in Ohio.
I was 9 years old when I learned that my skin color was something I would have to defend and claim space for—for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to 2006, the year I got married. We have two healthy and beautiful boys, yet when they were babies, it was dehumanizing having to carry their birth certificates around to prove I was their mother.
It’s unbelievable that it’s 2020 and race continues to be a cause for so much hate, hurt, and discord in our world.
When I sat down to think about the theme of BELLA’s coveted Summer Issue, I looked at my children and found solace in what I believe is the direct response to racial divide: love. My biracial sons are walking examples of what love, which sees no barriers, looks like. And as children, in their undisturbed innocence, they represent so much hope.
Hope means to believe, to desire, to trust. Hope is sustaining.
And while hope may be a word we use when things are going well, “hopeful” may not feel like the best word to describe what we’re facing in the current state of the world.
We’ve collectively seen tragedy, heartbreak, and pain. We are afraid, we are sad, we are angry. And yet, in spite of all of this, some pretty wonderful things are happening. Just take a look at our cover story, “Letters of Hope to our Future,” on pages 62-77.
You may want to believe you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope, however, provides us all a gift we don’t have to surrender. It’s a power that is all ours for the taking, one we don’t have to give away.
Hope is a force you can always source from, even when the glass has nothing in it at all.
Hope has the possibility of creating reality. Hope is activism (dive into “Why Teaching BLM Matters” on pages 112-113 for inspiration).
I recognize how hope has been at the helm of every single prayer that’s impacted every decision I’ve ever made in both my personal and professional endeavors. I am sure you have noticed many of those changes at BELLA, especially over the past year.
Our world may look stark, and you may feel tempted to lose hope. I believe that holding on to hope—especially that which emanates from looking into my children’s eyes and holding their hands—makes it even more important to hold on tightly to a vision of a better future.
Behind the Scenes, Our Front + Back Cover
Traditionally, this issue would have been our Hamptons Summer Issue, celebrating the season of relaxation, travel, all things beachside, and more. With our world in its current state, it felt only right to do what I knew in my heart will continue to be the direction of BELLA.
Culminating my first year as BELLA’s owner, CEO + Editor-In-Chief, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to my team, our brand partners, and you—our readers. The common thread has been to continue to highlight celebrities we all know and love, but to also include every day men and women doing extraordinary things.
With that, I give you this—our Hope Issue, a testament to love.
Our cover was photographed by the fabulous Jessica Cirz. What you see are my children’s hands in mine. I firmly believe our future is in our children’s hands, and how we will get to a better state of our world is through compassion.
Compassion is what visual artist and designer Elizabeth Sutton decided to name her tribute artwork of George Floyd. When she shared her work online, it ruffled some feathers. His death continues to fuel protests about racial injustices and many unsettled social issues all over the world. When I saw her painting, I was reminded of the lyrics from Bethel Music’s version of “Champion”—
I’ve tried so hard to see it
Took me so long to believe it
That you’d choose someone like me
To carry your victory
Perfection could never earn it
You give what we don’t deserve
You take the broken things
And raise them to glory
Elizabeth and I have a special connection, and I am thrilled you get to experience her work in this issue (just flip to the back cover).
No matter what or who you believe in spiritually, compassion is something we’ve all experienced. Compassion is empathy and caring in action. Empathy allows us to connect with other people.
I dare to believe that hope, compassion, and love are what allow us to see our shared humanity.
I hope you enjoy every part of this issue.
With love, gratitude, and hope for more compassion in 2020.