A dear friend of mine spoke so honestly and raw on Facebook last night that I asked if I could share her post on my blog. I said in yesterday's blog that as a white man I feel lost and unsure what to say or do. I appreciate her allowing me to share her feelings as a mother and an amazingly strong woman that I admire greatly.
I've been very silent today, as my emotions, like the emotions of so many others, have swung between anger, crying and fear. What is happening to black people, especially black men, is wrong and if you are a person of conscious you have to call it out.
My husband and I have raised 5 children--2 of them are strong, smart and capable black men. However, we live in a country where they are constantly the victims of other people's suspicions. We shouldn't have had to give them the "talk" about how to interact with the police--but we did. We shouldn't have had to constantly harp on them about how they dressed and how they spoke, because people would make assumptions--but we did. We shouldn't have had to be on the phone today, with family and friends commiserating and shaking our heads and asking each other, why?--but we did. And we weren’t alone. I daresay most black people in this country were doing the same thing.
I appreciate the support of my white friends—but I need you to understand that this is not a “black problem.” This is truly an American problem. We should not have to film the deaths of our husband, brothers and friends for the majority to “believe” that there is a problem.
I’m going to continue to pray for our country—because I truly believe in the power of prayer. But I also believe in the power of work, and the Bible tells us that “faith without work is dead.” So what can I do—what can we all do? We can raise our voice—we can call our Members of Congress and say that instead of a 50th hearing into Hillary Clinton’s email, how about our elected officials call hearings on the problem with policing in the US, and what can be done to establish some best practices and real training for cops.
Let me be clear--I do not hate policeman. My husband was a cop for 10 years. I hate that the first reaction of too many of them is to shoot a black person first. Yesterday (July 6) in North Carolina, a 62 year old white man fired a handgun during an altercation with a Wake County deputy after the man was seen pointing a shotgun at passing cars. The man, William Bruce Ray, was approached by a Deputy and pulled a handgun on him. The two wrestled and Ray even fired a shot during the incident. Ray however, was taken into custody and not physically harmed. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both had legal weapons, which they did not pull on the police, but they are both dead. You try explaining that one.
Let me end by sharing the words of Jesse Williams from his recent speech at the BET Awards. A speech which prompted some woman named Erin Smith to create a petition urging his firing from Grey’s Anatomy for what she called “a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people.” Jesse ended, what I viewed as an incredibly eloquent acceptance speech for a Humanitarian Award by saying “the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down. We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
So, when we say #blacklivesmatter, please do not come at me with “all lives matter.” Of course, they do. If you would just listen, what we’re really saying is “black lives matter, too”- We matter just as much. We love our sons, our husbands our brothers just as much and we are tired of having to bury them because they reacted too quickly or too slowly or didn’t bow quick enough. If you want to know what you can do—stand up and say something to those in power. If not—Then. Have. Several. Seats.