I don’t usually have a clear plan when I decide to write something. I just try to do it every day so I don’t get rusty. I try to keep things light most of the time, but sometimes life gets heavy and you have to be serious. I didn’t have a single thing to write about today because all I’ve had on my mind has been all of this senseless violence of white police officers killing black people. But, I thought, I can’t write about something I know nothing about. I don’t go to bed and worry that when I head out to work in the morning that I may not make it home because my tail light was busted or because I “look” like I’m up to no good. I never worry about my safety at all. And I am the only white person on my block. I do, however, worry about the safety of my son every time he leaves the house on foot or on his bike, because he’s black. Obviously, he’s only half black, because I’m white, but I know it will only be the black part that matters when he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time or some prick of a cop decides that his butterfly knife that he keeps in his pocket is a gun. I’ve had so many talks with him over the last few months about how to “behave” if he is in a situation with the police in order to just make it out alive, but my advice is just more white people advice. I know it won’t matter how he’s dressed, who he’s with, or how he is behaving.
I feel helpless. I want to do something to stop it, but I don’t know how to start this revolution. I can’t tell all my black friends that I love them and to be safe out there, because in order to be safe, apparently, they should not leave their homes, because it is not safe anywhere. I can share the injustices. I can hashtag all day, but what is that really doing? Of course it shows I am an ally, but I’m not DOING anything. I can’t wake up in the morning and apologize to black people for any murdering my people might do today. That’s not how it works either. I know that I am not responsible for the actions of a small handful of people that look like me, because I know there are a lot of other white people who feel the same way I do. But I also feel like something more needs to be done. I’m not the only one screaming this. I’m sure I’m not the only one trying to figure out what more I can do. I can share a post. I can share a hashtag. I can hold a billboard up. I can start a petition. I can hug every black person I see and tell them I am on their side. I can use my cell phone to record injustices. I can speak up when I know something is wrong. And still, I don’t feel like it will be enough. I just want to make it stop.
How do we make whole police departments acknowledge there is a problem? How do we make them say, “we were wrong”? Would that even be enough? How do we get convictions? How do make sure police officers are psychologically evaluated prior to and during their time on the job? How do we keep track of patterns of behavior and reprimand and dismiss accordingly before it’s too late? I have a hard time believing that the police officers in the Alton Sterling case or any of the others have had spotless records. And if they did, there is nothing you can say to convince me that their spots hadn’t been swept under the rug more than once.
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. More than I wish for fresh air on a smoggy day. I wish I could apologize and make it better. I wish I felt like any action I could take today would make tomorrow even a little better for someone. But like I said, I feel helpless…and deflated. Though I may not know how, I do know it’s time to stand up for what we all know is right. Awful, spiteful, jealous, vengeful human beings should never ever have it in their authority to take another human being’s life at their discretion and when they do, they should never ever be charged with anything less than murder.
In honor of the fallen..
Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and many more not named here.