To my precious, loved, cared for, black friends who have freely and immeasurably enriched my life with your love, laughs, music, culture, gifts, and friendship over the years:
I am so very sorry. I just didn’t know.
I always attended lower to middle income schools (read: racially and ethnically diverse for the South) and my parents always welcomed all over the years into our lives and homes. I went to what would be considered an inner city high school for two years and a fairly diverse public/private high school for the second two. So to me, we were all the same in being kids who were attending to our duty of growing up and getting our government mandated education. But before and after school, it’s clear, our narrative was very different.
On his first day after my father was elevated to a supervisory position for the railroad, he went and shook the hand of every man (including the black men, they were mostly black) on his road gang that did the work on the rails in his work region in North Florida. He told us that he didn’t know how close he was to being fired just for having shaken the hands of those men.
Though I have no idea what it’s like to be stopped while being black, I DO know that unchecked power is at minimum dangerous and at maximum, deadly. And though I know that I DON’T right away know much or anything about the narrative and circumstances and arrest records that took place before the camera(s) started rolling, and I DON’T know about the adrenaline that flows in the heat of that type of moment, what I’m seeing isn’t right. Hell, I don’t even like when a cop car is behind me on the road for ANY length of time because I know they could FUCK UP my day / week / month, “just because.”
“Well, if you don’t have a guilty conscience you don’t need to worry.” Bullshit. We ALL have guilty consciences just from being broken and messy human beings. And if I’m white and worried about what power some officer could yield in my life, then all the worse for a black man or woman.
And further, while the general assumption may be that ALL law enforcement officers are there through some sort of interview, vetting, training, and genuine desire to serve the public, I’m guessing that there is still a decent percentage that are doing it just as a way to put food on the table and provide for themselves and / or a family and they just want to go home safe (read: alive) at the end of the day and aren’t too much concerned with anything over and above that, including someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter.
I’m guessing there’s a decent percentage that are unhappy with their jobs, careers, and likely have given up on a dream to do “something else” with their lives and have fallen into one of many societal paths of least resistance that is honorable and worthwhile for the benefit of our fellow citizens, yet crushing for their souls. And as the dust settled from the life decisions that were made, many have ended up trapped where they’re not supposed to be doing a job they don’t want to do “to serve and protect” the lives of people they don’t really care about.
I don’t exactly know where to go from here because I’m not involved in any way with law enforcement and it’s the least of my desires, but I’m woke.
And the cameras are rolling.
And I’ll be watching.
And in the meantime, I’ll be “hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”