This week has been so fucked up I don’t even know where to start but I feel like I need to write something if not for the world (much more eloquent people have already shared their thoughts) then for myself, to help organize the crisis that is in my head right now.
Since everything that happens these days I see through the lens of a mother, my first thought upon watching the videos of Philandro and Alton was “my poor babies.” My poor children that are going to grow up in this gruesome circus that we call “the greatest country in the world.”
And then I thought, no.
Poor other people’s children. Poor black children, and their poor mothers who not only woke up this morning thinking “what the fuck?!” but also woke up thinking – where is my child, and what are they doing that might get them shot by the very people entrusted to protect them.
Things like having a tail light out, or reaching for their ID during a routine traffic stop.
I. Cannot. Imagine.
It is terrifying enough to be a mother and worry about whether your children will do drugs or drive drunk or cut class in high school. I cannot imagine also fearing for my child’s LIFE as a result of what myself and other white people have the privilege of viewing as a youthful mistake or simple legal infraction.
Five police officers were murdered last night as I nursed my sweet baby back to sleep.
This is equally horrific for a number of reasons – not the least of which is that it will inevitably draw the attention away from the issue at hand (systemic racism) and back to something we as a nation are sickeningly familiar with – mourning a mass shooting.
I am horrified for the families of those officers. I am horrified for our country that we’ve let it come to this.
I am NOT justifying the actions of whomever shot those officers, but I do sympathize with the desperation that comes with decades of oppression. The feeling that you must do something dramatic to elicit any change at all.
Murder was the wrong choice. Murder is ALWAYS the wrong choice.
But I’m devastated that we as a country have turned a blind eye for so long that someone felt the need to kill people to get our attention.
I know that my words offer no consolation to those that have experienced first hand this type of horror. But Black Lives Matter.
Police lives matter, too. Of course they do. And I feel equally devastated for the families of the officers killed in Dallas. But we already knew that. We already mourn collectively for every police officer killed in the line of duty. We start Go Fund Me campaigns and host bake sales and pray over their families. As we should.
But what about Alton? What about Philandro? What about Freddie and Sandra and the hundreds of other black lives taken that never even made the news? Or those who did make the news, only to be remembered in rap sheets instead of eulogies.
They are why we need to be reminded that Black Lives Matter. Not because they matter more, but because they matter, TOO. Also. In addition.
It is sickening that it took the BLATANT murder of two black men ON VIDEO to shake the masses. That we had to literally run out of excuses (criminal history, size, employment status, clothing choice, etc.) before finally calling a spade a spade. If white murder victims were subject to the same scrutiny that black ones are – well – there would be many more families mourning in silence. In shame. In disbelief.
I feel so sad for my babies right now. I feel so sad for our country. And I feel angry at myself for standing by and hoping others will right the wrongs of our broken system.
I don’t know what the right thing to do is right now. But I will do this: I will raise my daughters to be kind. To be both empathetic and also sympathetic to struggles of others that they are fortunate enough to not be able to empathize with. I will teach them to think critically and compassionately. I will teach them to make smart choices, but also to not be afraid to own up to their bad ones.
I want my girls to do things right. But more than that I want them to be able to admit when they’re wrong. A lesson our country could benefit greatly from in this time of incredible grief and self-reflection.
Today, pray for peace. But also, pray for change.