Saturday, December 06, 2014

Silenced, Saddened

I want to write another gratitude list.
I want to post photos of our cute new Christmas tree.
I want to share stories of time spent with family and friends over the past few weeks.
And I'm sure that I will. At some point.

For now, I am silenced and saddened by the violence and injustice that is rampant in our country.
I am saddened and silenced by the anger and fear that have caused the violence and injustice.

I am saddened when people ask questions like,
"What about black on black crime?" when they simply want to avoid the conversation about race and racial prejudice and racial profiling and blatant racism in this country.
"Where is the leadership?" when they don't want to take a stand and become a leader themselves and then when they hear about community leaders and organizers taking action, they act like it's an anamoly and seem surprised that leaders are acting and changes are happening.
"What can I do?" when they don't want do anything and they don't have to do anything because they have the luxury to care or not care when they choose. They can go days and days, weeks and weeks, months and months without thinking about whether or not they appear threatening to someone, whether or not they will wear the hood on their sweatshirt while out walking or running in their own neighborhood, or whether or not their sons or daughters will be stopped by a police officer, frisked, searched, handcuffed, misidentified, misunderstood, mishandled, or killed simply because they are brown-skinned.

I am silenced when people say,
"You are making yourselves into victims when you prepare yourself and your children for how to respond when they are stopped by the police."
"But he wasn't innocent; he stole cigars that store."
"My friend/brother/father/cousin is a cop. Not all cops are bad."

What I'm thinking in my moment of stunned silence is:
Even though I prepare my children, that preparation may not save them at the moment of confrontation. Just ask all those parents whose children have died unjustly.
He may have stolen something from that store and pushed the attendant, but he did not deserve to die in the street and lie there for hours.
An officer was indicted and convicted for killing an elk in Colorado and sentenced to four years probation and 200 hours of community service. Seriously? An elk?
What about the men and women killed for knocking on someone's door at night after a car accident, while walking home with candy and a drink, for playing with a toy gun in a park, for carrying a toy gun in the toy section of a store?
My brother was a cop in NYC for fifteen years. It's true; not all cops are bad. That's true. But some cops kill unarmed people for inexplicable reasons and don't get indicted or convicted.
Even when the murder is videotaped.
And the chokehold is illegal.
And the man says he can't breathe
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over
and over again.
Eleven times.
On tape.
Not even a trial.

A few minutes ago, I helped my son find his jersey for his favorite British soccer team so he can wear it while he watches them play. My son who will be heading off to college soon. My son who still comes to hug me when he wakes up in the morning and laughs at the hues of my green juices and even got a tattoo recently that, in part, is a tribute to my victory over kanswer.

I am silenced and saddened by the sorrow of the mothers and fathers who loved their sons and daughters as much as I love mine - who will never find their child's favorite jerseys again or watch games with them again or buy them Christmas presents or hug them in the morning, or even argue with them, get angry at them, warn them about not doing drugs, not stealing, not walking down the middle of the street, and not being beligerent against police officers.

Their children are dead. Gone. Buried.
And no one is being held accountable for their deaths.


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