Well, you guys. Poop. Crap. Damn. This police brutality and killing stuff. I can’t even…all I can say is #BlackLives do matter. Sorry (not sorry) if that hashtag/phrase gets your panties in a wad. All Lives matter, actually, but how we treat and view minorities in this country is something we’re going to have to recognize about ourselves. I know a lot of people who suffer from White Privilege, which is an actual thing…unless you’re talking to people suffering from it, who always insist it isn’t. To do this, we’re going to have to let go of our political opinions, our petty insecurities, and our cultural pride and egos to say: Black people in this country are disproportionately in danger whenever dealing with the police. It doesn’t matter if a black person drives a high end Mercedes Benz. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a suit. Or if they’re incredibly polite and choose their words with extreme caution. Or if the last 5 times they interacted with the police everything was fine and everybody was cool and awesome. It doesn’t matter. Black people, whenever interacting with the police in this country, are in danger. It is not being politically correct to acknowledge this when there is real, hard data out there proving it. Black Lives matter.
But so do ALL Lives. And I’ve always raised Melissa to believe the police are here to help her; they are helpers. I will continue to do this, but every time I speak these words, “Police are here to help you, the police are your helpers,” as more incidents like what happened to Alton Stirling and Philando Castile and numerous others in recent headlines keep happening, I will feel more and more like a fraud as I tell her the police are her friends, more and more afraid that one day my daughter will have a bad experience with one and she will come to me with heartbroken betrayal in her eyes, maybe even bruised and bloodied, asking the question I keep asking myself, my friends keep asking on social media: WHY? My heart broke for the daughter of Philando Castile’s girlfriend, crying in fear in the back of the car he was shot in; the police will never be seen as helpers for this child now. My heart is broken for that little girl, for my little girl, for all of our children.
Intellectually, I know why this keeps happening– we have a problem with institutionalized, ingrained racism in this country. In spite of Equal Opportunity, in spite of Affirmative Action, in spite of anti-discrimination laws…we are still not all seen as equals. C once tried to rent at an apartment complex that had EOE stickers all over its windows and his application was denied with some lame excuse – over the phone they’d had plenty of apartments available, in person, woops. You’re not really a good fit for this place. I once went to a coworker’s house for dinner in an exclusive neighborhood populated by lots and lots of rich people (her husband made almost 7 figures a year and her teaching money was for play and fun). She had a biracial niece, and I remember her saying with great certainty and conviction, “Racism is over now. There’s no more racism.” I had just started dating C and we were struggling with some issues around race (not between us, from other people). I remember going, “Huh? On what planet is this? Racism is a HUGE thing still.”
Some people just want to bury their heads.
And the police can absolutely be brutal…to anyone of any race. If you click that hyperlinked sentence, you can read all about the the kinds of things that can happen to you at the hands of someone in power with a gun. So I think this is also part of the Why – many people who go into law enforcement have ISSUES. These are people who struggle with anger, extreme insecurity, low self-esteem, and to make themselves feel better, they bully people they view as weaker, dumber, and “less than.” Some of them have a Machiavellian attitude about justice. And many of them have tremendous self-control issues.
Another question I keep asking and my friends keep asking is: What do we do? I think that’s the hardest question, because it involves taking action. Standing up to loved ones and calling them out on their prejudices. Speaking up when somebody is saying or doing something you disagree with. Slowly dismantling White Privilege, police power, and the notion of “this is how we’ve always done it” bit by bit. Change has never been easy for me – I get totally used to how things have always been done. But there are some things that need to change in this country, and this is one of them. I have friends of all races who’ve had bad, sometimes traumatizing, experiences with police officers of all races. So while this is absolutely a political and a racial issue in its immediacy, it’s also an American problem at heart. We are in pain, dear lovelies. You may not agree with my politics, but can you agree that we are in pain? And that we are better than this? When I watched the Philando video of his manslaughter (and it was manslaughter – we’ll see if the courts do their usual thing and forgive and forget and sweep it away since a cop committed the act or if they’ll actually use the video and fairly address what happened…sadly, I don’t have a lot of hope for the latter), I can hear the pain. From ALL the sides – the little girl in the back, who will be working through witnessing that trauma the rest of her life, her mother in shock and anger and grief…and the police officer who shot Philando, clear-headed now, beginning to realize exactly what he’d done. Later, he can be heard screaming “FUCK!” in the background, over and over. All I witnessed was extreme human pain. My heart is broken for us.
I am tired of mass shootings by psychos because we don’t have proper gun control laws in place. I am tired of Fortune 500 companies and well-funded groups like the NRA driving the direction our humanity is going to take itself because our electoral system is based on money and not service now. I am tired of men telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. I am tired of rich white boys getting slaps on the wrist for rape. I am tired of bullies – online, offline, in our law-making bodies, running for president, in our police forces. My heart is broken for all of us. And I am terrified for the people I love who have the most to fear from those in power. I am worried about our beautiful country, and my worry extends all over this gorgeous planet we’ve been gifted.
We are all connected. We are all one. When one of us is raped or beaten, all of us have been raped and beaten. When one of us is murdered, we all lose a piece of our souls. There’s a little girl in Minnesota right now who’s been psychologically raped by life. She belongs to all of us, it’s our responsibility to make sure she’s okay and that no more children ever have to be where she was the other day. When a police officer can’t control his fear and chooses to commit homicide, we are all responsible for why that happened. We are all responsible for making sure it never happens again – that struggling police officers with anxiety and anger issues get help. That cultural and racial sensitivity becomes important to our police forces. We are all responsible for taking care of each other, for loving each other, for helping each other be okay. For making the world a good place to live in.
I feel like we’re at a crossroads, sweet Reader/s. Like we’re consistently being presented with information, and Something, Somewhere, is whispering “Choose who you will be.”