Nobody wants to talk about this race thing. But I think it’s time. Since August 9, 2014 news outlets, Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines have been inundated with the news of 18-year-old Michael Brown being shot down in Ferguson, MO by a police officer. Michael Brown was unarmed. For a moment, let’s forget about the fact that Mike Brown was black and the officer was white. For a moment, let’s just understand that Mike was a kid on his way to college. For a moment, let’s understand that the very person who should’ve been protecting him shot him. The fact is, regardless of race, no one should be shot by law enforcement without just cause. The fact is, regardless of race, I shed tears anytime I see someone being hurt, especially children, and especially in a violent nature. No we don’t have all of the facts. However, we do know Mike Brown was without a weapon and witnessed to have been in a position of submission before he was shot.
While I don’t get into racial discussions, I believe that now is the time to share my thoughts, not just on this situation but on the reality that is the America we live in today (whether we can see it or not). I have felt that I had to keep silent instead of speak out about what is going on in Ferguson, MO. But I’ve learned that when something is tugging at your heartstring, you need to address it. And while I don’t have any hate in my heart, there is a lot of hurt. It’s the hurt I felt when I heard about the mass shooting in Newtown, CT. It’s also the same hurt when I heard of a mother losing her son to senseless gun laws in Florida. And I distinctly remember fearing my life and hurting for the families who became victims of the DC sniper.
I don’t generally watch the news (because most of it is sad and depressing) or partake in negative thinking or speaking. I’m usually the one to be optimistic, encouraging, uplifting and supportive, and in this case, silent. However, I’ve learned that sometimes, being silent is not the best thing. In fact, it can be the very thing that perpetuates the types of behavior that goes on around us. And as a mom raising three kids, I want to do what I can to make it a better place for them and for generations to come.
I admit that when everything first started surfacing about this incident, I laid low. I shared info with only my husband and very few family and friends offline, for fear of offending people or losing friendships. Or, even fearing that I could lose business or that people may lose respect for me because of the work that I do. But I believe it’s this very fear that has prohibited many people (family, friends, colleagues and strangers alike) to be able to have a conscious dialogue about something like this without racial tensions rising.
It’s this fear that will keep these very important discussions from happening. It’s this very fear that will continue to keep us divided instead of bringing us together to come up with a solution to the problem. But how do we do that? We can only do that by facing the dialogue head on instead of turning the blind eye. We do that by being open to listen to the dialogue instead of immediately finding a rebuttal to justify and support your own position.
Yes, I get it. People are tired of “us” using the race card. But trust me, we’re tired of it too. In fact we’re tired of living the race card. However, we can’t blame people for being tired of something they have to only hear about and not live through. But we can and should have open dialogue about it. We should talk about things like why my sister-in-law and two of her black friends were harassed by white police officers because they “fit the description” of three girls (“black girls and one had a scarf”) who had just shoplifted at the mall across the street. They were held for questioning only to be told soon after that they had the wrong girls. The police officer let them go but not before stating that they were “safe for now”. And no, these aren’t bad girls. These are good girls who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s stories like these and countless others that are left untold, that we need to start bringing to the limelight and asking one simple question: Why?
Why is it that we spread the news of mass shootings in white schools and it’s okay? Why is it that I shouldn’t be upset about a campaign raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help support someone identified as killing a child? Why is it that every time a black child or person is killed, the first question is what did he/she do? Why is it a problem to shed light about the inequalities when it comes to injustice between blacks and whites?
This post is not meant to stir up angry comments or to simply play the “race card”. I don’t know all of the answers but I’m hoping that together, with respectful and conscious dialogue, we can come up with them together.
What steps can we take to unite and stand instead of divide and fall?