There’s nothing more I can add to the conversations that the county is currently having (again) about how we’ve got a toxic police culture, can’t graduate our society out of the entrenched racism we were built upon, and now yet another series of American generations is left to hope enough of our country’s men and women were raised not to be narcissistic assholes (spoiler: Unlikely).
I’m a white dude. I’ve got it great. I have some tattoos, but most cops I doubt would give me more than a passing glance for being anywhere doing much of anything, so long as I dress reasonably well and don’t act in a way that is flamboyant, flavorful, or overly expressive. Life is good.
I don’t understand black pain and supression because I’m white. I don’t get it. I never will. When the cops murder yet another black American, I offer all the condolence I can, but my part in mending this fence is admitting that I don’t know how they feel, I don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes. I concede my ignorance, and am here to listen.
I’ve said racist things before. I’ll totally admit that. I’m a human being who grew up in a white world, and for some members of my family, racism is a granular and subjective matter that has degrees and does not apply in the form of a blanket. In other words, there were a number of discussions where the, “there are black people, and then there are (hard R)s” logic was bandied about.
In a manner of thinking, I got it. It makes a weird, ugly sort of sense, but it doesn’t remedy the issue. You could say the same thing about any race by essentially boiling things down to class. It’s a form of therapeutic prejudice. I love my family, warts and all, and I know they all have good hearts. Doesn’t change what was said then, but people change and grow with time. I won’t speak for them, but I’d hope they’d think with a little more compassion these days.
In regards to the cops, I think the police are just like anyone else – mostly good people working a demanding job. I can’t understand what it means to be a police officer, either, but danger is part of their profession. I’d happily listen to them as well.
I am a flawed person who is a member of a privileged culture who has been guilty of being a bigot in thought and occassional private discussion in the past. I will not be perfect in these regards, I’m sure, but I am proud to say that in spite of my failures and flaws as I’ve developed my humanity I have fought and always will fight for one consistent platform that I wish we’d all agree upon:
Don’t Be An Asshole.
Don’t vote against a candidate who’s black, a woman, a minority, a different religion, etc. Vote with conviction for who you feel deserves it or don’t vote at all.
Don’t boil individuals into stereotypes. Go actually talk to and work with people of color, and look them in the eyes. Shake their hands. Follow their social media and see their lives, their culture. Know their damn names, even if they’re difficult to pronounce. I have to often Google new employee names online so I can now how to properly say them, because I don’t want to disrespect them.
If all of this is too much, do what your teachers asked you to do a long time ago: Put on your thinking caps. Use your eyes and hearts to try to understand, and if it’s too much, that’s okay. It’s a lot to deal with – this is not an easy nut to crack.
Let’s all do better, forgive ourselves and each other, be smart and respectful of our neighbors and fellow man, and take the time to listen to the pain of Black America. We’re all laying in the beds made by our ancestors and elders, and at some point somebody’s got to change the white sheets.
Maybe we can pick a colorful pattern next time.