Sunday, July 10, 2016

an unthinkable week

In the last 6 days we have seen the bloody evidence of our racist history and present culture play out live on our phones and televisions.
Inevitably there come the voices saying "well..."
If he hadn't moved suddenly, if he hadn't been carrying a weapon, if he hadn't been selling loose cigarettes or cds, if he had been more respectful, if, if, if.
People, and mostly white people if the truth be known, seem to look for any excuse to justify these killings because it makes them uncomfortable to think that it is about race.
I don't have any magic words of healing, but I do know that I can send my child out to play with the neighbor kids without fear.
I can let him walk to the grocery store in our neighborhood and my biggest worry is the traffic as he crosses the street.
There are millions of American mothers and fathers who live with a constant dread of harassment, violence and possibly death for themselves and their children for no other reason than the skin they're in.
The contrast between my life and the lives of these countless others is unfair.
It is tragic.
It is cruel.
I grieve for these men.
I grieve for their families.
I weep when I think of the 4-year-old baby girl and her mother who watched a good man killed in his own car, still wearing his seatbelt.
I weep when I think of the wife and children of a man who will never come home because instead of getting a ticket for an unlawful act he was publicly executed.
I weep for the the lives of 5 police officers taken as they did their duty to protect and serve the people who rose up to say no more.
My tears are not enough.
We need to work, those of us who are given this unearned privilege of safety and comfort.
We need to work to stop racist behavior when we see it.
We need to work to stop discrimination.
We need to work to stop the violence.
We need to speak the names of the dead (this link is 2 years old and since then we have had more senseless killing, more and more lives destroyed) with reverence and a hope that more will not join this list.
We need to show up.

Philando Castile lived in my hometown.
He worked at the elementary school I attended as a child.
My neighbors and the children of my friends knew and loved him.
He made the lives of people around him better.
He is America. He is all of us. He is gone.

2 comments:

Mary Lou said...

Well said - it has been a hard week.

Caffeine Girl said...

I feel you. You might remember that a former student of mine was gunned down at age 16 earlier this year in Chicago. Each loss is monumental.