Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In the aftermath of Baltimore.

These past few days have moved me.
to tears.
to anger.

and now? to some sort of action. 

I watch the same news as you.
I see the same Facebook posts.
I've never been one to like confrontation (does anyone?),
so I've found myself holding back from having conversations I feel in my heart must be had.

I think I've done this for a few different reasons, really.
Maybe because I don't want to offend people I care about.
Maybe because I don't want to make other people feel uncomfortable.
Maybe because sometimes, in the moment, I don't know exactly what to say.

The truth of the matter, though, I've realized, is this -
no matter how much I care about the comfort of my extended family, friends, and acquaintances I'm connected with on social media,
it doesn't hold a candle to the fierce love and protection I have for my sons. 

This post isn't for everyone.
It is for you if:
You jump to defend each police officer who has been accused of murdering a black man/boy.
You say/think comments such as; I'm not a racist, but did you see his track record?
It's a tragedy, but have you heard what his parent's did?
He might have been innocent, but why did he run?
He was acting like a thug.
He should have been in jail.
The real victim here is (Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman, white policemen in America).
Have you seen the riots?
Do you know the stats of black on black murders?

Yes - if you bristled to read those comments then this post might have been written for you.
You are helping to keep the system alive - the one that will make it dangerous for my sons to grow up, the one that will keep them under the thumb,
keep them guilty until proven innocent,
keep them lazy until proven useful,
keep them unintelligent until they pass your test.

It seems you don't connect these men to me - to my kids. 
You say these things, then like one of my pictures or comment "Precious!"
You welcome us in to your homes. You smile at my children.

Let me break this down for you - from my perspective.
Those unarmed teens? Those young men who are dead - buried cold?
They could SO easily be my boys.
People shake their heads, they say no, not if you raise them right - not YOUR kids.
But I promise you - my sons will make mistakes - and they might make them big.
Think about yourself as a teenager. Think about the things you did - the lies you told. 

This is what you are saying to me, when you post and comment and like news articles that care more about shaming the rioting of hurting men and women
than talking about the reality of the system that caused the pain -

You're telling me that when Finn is 17 - if he ever gets in trouble at school, if he gets expelled, if he ever gets in a fist fight, swears at an adult, drives too fast,
if, GOD FORBID - he ever does drugs or steals a soda -
and then is approached by a police officer and feels fear and either:
a. stands up to the officer
b. runs
if he is killed by that officer, he deserved it. 
He had it coming to him. because of the mistakes he made.

My son. My boy. My Finnley. 

My insides twist and turn. Do yours?
Did you know that ingrained in that little boy is the response of fight or flight?
Did you know that many people who experience trauma as children have that same response hard-wired into their minds? That when they feel fear - a trigger goes off that sometimes they can't control? This boy will run fast when he is older. He will be stubborn. How my blood runs like ice to think of the inadequacy of me as a white mother - the ways I will fail to keep him safe.
Are you hearing me?

Can you imagine knowing that Zion's body build 
could give a grown man with a gun the excuse to shoot him dead?
That later, after everything is done and it's all over and too late -
he could be called menacing, threatening, "bigger than his age."
That people would shake their heads and whisper about the way he walked and talked.

My Zion. My baby.

I look at him and I dream of him as a football star, or a doctor, or a firefighter
and beg God to let others see that too.

Do you have a son? 
Do you believe, deep in your heart, that as a teenager he will never backtalk, lie, cheat?
Can you imagine how you would feel if he was killed,
and the only parts of his life shared on the news were the times he'd made mistakes?

Please hear me.
I absolutely do NOT believe any sort of lie that would say all cops are racist, 
I respect law officers and I'm grateful everyday for the ones that protect the people of this country.
I believe they risk their lives when they leave their homes.

Does that mean they can't make mistakes?
Does that mean that there is no cop who is racist?
That there is no cop who has been trained in a system where black men and people of color instill just a bit more fear than white people?
Does that mean they can't do wrong, can't murder?
That justice shouldn't be served where it is due?

I've heard many people say lately that it's not about race.
That the majority of America treat people of every color equally.
I have to wonder if those who think this way love a person of another race to the point they would give their lives for them?
I may have thought that way, once, too -
but if you love a black boy, teen, man, with your entire heart - you will see the truth -
you will feel the fear in your gut -
you will read the comments that make your heart break to pieces.
You will KNOW.

My kids can't play with bb guns.
They can't wear hoodies and walk down the street.
They will be followed in gas stations,
pulled over for random reasons,

But they will do great things.
Finnley? He can run so fast. Throw far.
He loves to laugh. He is goofy.
His heart is gentle and kind.

Zion? He is a jokester.
He is the sweetest boy you'll ever meet.
He will do anything to make others smile.
He has rhythm in his soul.

I tell them everyday how much I love them.
How I would do anything for them.

This is their world as much as it is yours.
Do you listen to the pain in the protests?
Can you hear the hurt coming from generations of unfairness?
Do you want to?


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