I am a white woman with two grown black children, and I am genuinely afraid for their lives.
The death, violence, and hatred that we have all witnessed this week should concern us all. As President Obama stated with such great emotional restraint last Wednesday, “These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” The events of this week of violence in America concerns me deeply. More deeply than I have ever acknowledged before. And, as Obama said, these events should concern and trouble us all.
No mother or father (black, brown or white) should have to have “the conversation” with their black son to “be careful when (not if, but WHEN!) you’re stopped by the police. Why? Because you’re a black man in America.” [This “conversation” has been happening for several generations. Watch this emotional video.] My heart is broken and I am weary of the racial injustice that is woven into the fabric of this nation. As I stated in an earlier piece:
[As a nation and as a people] we have learned precious little. Not only do we still nurture hatred, suspicion, and bigotry in our children, we also continue to support and sanction state sponsored violence and oppression against targeted groups and minorities. What the hell are we afraid of?
I will not counter the #BlackLivesMatter movement with that petty, insensitive and ignorant retort uttered by so many white people who feel uncomfortable discussing racism in the shadow of yet another murdered black man. Feel the discomfort. Be appalled and horrified by the violence our nation continues to suffer because of poverty, bigotry, and oppression. And please, I beg you, stop contributing to it with hateful, inflammatory speech and insensitive remarks based on nothing but fear and ignorance.
This world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket and I am feeling ashamed to be a part of a race that causes so much division, fear, bigotry, racism, and poverty in our world. I am embarrassed by all of the ignorant comments on social media that clearly come from the narrow perspective of white privilege. If you have the courage, I invite you to stop and consider what it is like to be a minority in America. Everyday of your life. Everywhere you go. With nowhere to hide from those who fear you based solely on the color of your skin. I have tried to imagine this and have fallen short, even though I have heard and experienced the hatred and prejudice of white people while out in public with my black children. It hurts. A lot. Imagine being hurt every day of your life for no other reason except that you are black, and devalued by society.
I cannot speak to pain of racism and oppression in this country as my own children surely can. I cannot speak to the feelings of cultural duplicity that they must feel or the tension of having one foot in one world and one foot in another. I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to be a black man or a black woman in this country. Or can I? I am, after all, a member of the human race, am I not? My ability to empathize with someone else’s pain is not limited by the color of my skin. When I read reports and commentary on racism, or when I watch the news in horror, do I not feel a deep frustration at the unjust system that fuels hatred and fear, and targets black men in this country? Of course I do, and so should every other human being.
But they don’t.
The deaths/murders of two more innocent black men at the hands of white police officers this week has left me feeling inconsolable. The ambush on police officers in Dallas leaves me feeling hopeless. The relentless violence that engulfs our nation leaves me feeling deeply troubled, sad and weary. If we continue to meet violence with more violence, and hate with more hate (MLK speech on “Loving Your Enemies.”), then is it any wonder that this country remains racially polarized so many generations after the end of slavery? As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
The whole issue of racism in this country has me questioning everything. Again. After all these years I still do not understand it. I do not understand how civilized people can continue to cling to a system that is complicit with racism and bigotry in an age that is groaning toward a more progressive and egalitarian society that embraces and celebrates diversity in all of its forms.
I just don’t understand anymore, and I’m afraid for our children and their future.
Grant us peace, Lord, for we are in desperate need.