I am at a loss. Still, I have words. There were not words yesterday, but I’ve found some.
1. I was pretty worthless at work yesterday. I spent the day watching coverage of the events of the past few days and wondering when we’re going to demand action. Declare enough is enough. My heart is world-wary and I’m tired. My friends should not be afraid to send their husbands and sons out to store to pick up some pizza for dinner. Again and again, you guys. It’s too much.
2. Alton Sterling. Phil Castile. There is no explanation I’ve found to convince me those poor men were not murdered. They were shot and killed because the law enforcement officers went into the situations with racist mentalities. They had been taught those racist mentalities systematically by the culture we tolerate. Maybe those racist sentiments were reinforced by their home lives, and maybe they weren’t. But they went in expecting to have to shoot simply because of the skin Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile were in. We have to do something – many and much more somethings – to end that kind of thinking, that kind of culture that promotes it. We need to speak out. We need to call our congressmen, our mayors, our city councils. Get out the vote and elect more sheriffs, judges, AGs who will appoint just prosecutors, DAs – once we have fair-minded individuals (who, maybe, just maybe might not all be white. Sweet Jesus.), we might have more fair minded justice systems and police forces… Okay, no. Even that last one is a stretch for me today.
3. I had another talk with the girls last night. They broke down in tears over what had happened. They just don’t understand how people could think like that, although Gracie is starting to see the world from a different, more mature viewpoint and I think she got it. Bee is the only white child in her class. Every single dang one of her friends is black, and it’s been that way since she’s been in school. She’s scared for her friends and their families, and I did what I could to ease those fears. And then I said what I wanted to repeat, something I’ve said before: they are privileged because of the color of their skin. And they have a duty to use that privilege to help their friends and anyone they’re with. If they see something unjust happening in front of them – speak up. Try to stop it. If they can’t, if it’s not safe or becomes so, at least bear witness. Pull out their phones and record the truth. Bear witness. My girls are 10 and 12, you guys. I should not be having this conversation with them. Again.
4. Black Lives Matter. Black. Lives. Matter. My dear friend Ange, whom I’ve known since we were Gracie’s age (good gracious) put it way better than I could:
When white kids get arrested the media shows their yearbook pictures, not their mug shots. Saying black lives matter rather than all lives matter shines a light on our family, friends & neighbors that are undervalued at an institutional level and under attack in ways that most white folks are not. I am not anti-anyone, rather I am for supporting my friends that are suffering individually and as a community. I don’t fear sending my son off into the world the way others do, that’s what this is about. We have to be willing to discuss things that make us uncomfortable. Acknowledging privilege is not admitting to being a racist. It’s the first step in changing the way the world works to save each other.
Yeah, I’m trying to get her elected for obviously good reason.
5. Yes, I know what happened last night. It happened right here where I live. I didn’t sleep well, trying to solve all the problems for all the sides all at once. This morning when I heard updates, the bottom fell out again. I died inside for the wives and girlfriends and boyfriends and families who had to get that phone call. Ten officers shot by snipers, one shot cornering a suspect. Five men died. One of those officers had just had twins. Twins. But you know what? That is not any worse than shooting a man unjustly in front of his four year old. And then cuffing that four year old and keeping her separated from her mama or any family until 5 a.m. the next morning. I wish there wasn’t any loss of life. I think we can mourn everyone’s loss. It’s not, as that Jon Stewart meme says, mutually exclusive. It’s wrong for one or two men to snipe at law enforcement officers and try to kill them because the continued modern day lynchings have broken them. It’s wrong! But…and here’s where I might lose a few people…I still understand where they’re coming from. Those individuals who killed the police, yes they were wrong, but I understand. I understand the pain that birthed their actions. It’s still not right. Not any of this is right. But I bet with everything I have that because of the actions of, at most, three people, everyone with dark skin will be blamed and suspected and held accountable and that is flat out wrong.
That is why I wrote my five bullets. Hoping every single fucking one of them hits home.