It’s Thanksgiving eve and I’m very, very thankful. My daughter turns 18 years old tomorrow. I can’t believe it, actually. She’s home from college and she and my niece are curled up on the sofa downstairs singing along to old episodes of Dragon Tales. My son is sound asleep in his bed after playing with his best friends all afternoon and my husband is with him, having fallen asleep while reading to him, worn out from a long day at work. We have a roof over heads, food to nourish our bodies, good health, family and friends.
Something feels very wrong tonight.
I can’t stop thinking about Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.
And I feel sick, ashamed, horribly uncomfortable. I can’t know what it’s like to feel the way many of my black friends must feel tonight because I just can’t, because I’m white. I only know that this is NOT ok with me and I want it to stop and I don’t know what to do or say. I’ve always taught my kids that it doesn’t matter what color our outsides are because we’re all the same. And thats true and we should be able to live that way but we can’t, we don’t because of layers and layers of history and power and economics and stereotypes and fear that dictate the way our society STILL functions. We’ve made progress but we have a long way to go. How can that be? We voted for the first black President AND we have Ferguson. And Cleveland. And on and on. Maybe Michael Brown should have been detained/arrested for stealing cigarettes and shoving the man who owned the shop. He shouldn’t be dead. Have you read the grand jury documents? You should, in the context of the way grand juries are supposed to operate. Google it. Tamir Rice? I can’t even speak about the video of that 12 year old child being shot because it’s UNSPEAKABLE. Police who use excessive force against black people, against black CHILDREN, don’t go to jail, they don’t go to trial, they’re not held accountable. They’re protected. I’m thinking I’ve been wrong. I didn’t help educate my kids or myself enough about the very real biases this country STILL operates under – that I still operate under – and WHY they exist and how unfair and wrong they are. And how they hurt us all.
I’m struggling with wanting to let loose on some people SO BADLY, I want to unfriend and/or tell them off for being inexplicably ignorant or worse. I am SHOCKED by their responses to what happened in Ferguson, responses that range from hateful and ugly to willful denial to stunning silence. But hey, we’ll go feed and love on the orphans in Africa! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what about what’s going on HERE? I want to give us all a freaking reading list and I want to micromanage our reading to make sure we understand what is being communicated. But acting that way makes me part of the problem, not the solution, right? I need to accept that we all come from different places and see things different ways? That fixing this will take time? You know what I hate? THIS.
I’m the mother of an almost 9 year old white boy and all I can think tonight is that if he were black, I’d be training him on how to conduct himself out in the world and with the police in an effort to protect him. FROM the police. FROM American white society. There’d be no room for mistakes. No room. But deep down in my heart I’d know it wouldn’t matter because IT’S WHITE AMERICA THAT’S IN NEED OF THE TRAINING. IT’S US. IT’S ME.