Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unreasonable doubt.

After the execution of Troy Davis.

This haunted my husband. Haunted him. Gave him nightmares and everything. We sat on the couch together after the kids were off to school and I listened to my husband saying over and over again, "This could happen to me. Totally. This was right here where we live. It's crazy."

And I just nodded and thought about how Harry felt. I also thought about the day when Harry was driving his (own) car down Ponce de Leon Avenue and got pulled over by a cop. That cop hollered in his face with spit flying out of his mouth and demanded Harry to lay on the asphalt. Right next to this busy Atlanta street.

Lay on the who?

Any who know Harry either in real life or virtually through this blog know that Harry wasn't about to get on nobody's ground. But that officer kept pointing and bellowing in his face something about how some "black guy" had just carjacked a woman in a white BMW. Now. Seeing as my husband is in fact a black person--or "black guy" depending on who you ask--who happened to be driving that overpriced white car, then surely it was him, right?

Okay, maybe there was a wee bit of doubt, but still.  Not enough to stop this cop from making this grown ass man lay down on some dirty Midtown concrete. Or at least try to make him.

That story ends with Harry telling that officer his most respectful version of "hell naw" and letting the accuser know that he might really want to check the registration on this car before asking him to "get down" and "put your hands where I can see them."

Registered to a Harry A. Manning. And a "black guy," too.  Imagine that.

No apology.  Just some mumbling about how "it's our job to protect" and some other mess about having a good rest of the day.

Look.  I'm no dummy.  I know that there have been some instances--okay maybe a lot of instances--where a "black guy" committed some sort of crime such as robbing a car or even shooting at a cop. But I'm here to stomp my foot and say that, dammit,  there's a whole lot of other "black guys" out there who aren't. Like my man or my daddy. Brothers who go to work, come home, love on their wives, and pray to their Lord. Every single day. And I can testify that some of them are working hard to train up their own little "black guys" to do great things in this world. They are. They're doing it with all of their might and trying their damnedest to get it right.

It's terrifying to imagine that after all of that, somebody could potentially roll up on one of them one day and force them out of their car and onto some asphalt. Just for looking like they look or being where they are. But what gives the real nightmares is the thought of someone locking them up for two decades and ending their life. . . . .all in the name of the "job to protect."

Look, Mr. Officer. It's our job to protect, too.

We've since gotten rid of that overpriced car. See? We should've known that anything with that high of a note and that cost that much to fill up was nothing but bad news.


  1. You know my nightmares. I remember when Barack was first running for president, someone asked Michelle wasn't she afraid he could get shot. Michelle said, "Listen, Barack could get shot going to the gas station." I just sat in my living room and nodded. My husband had just run out to the store. It was evening and one part of me was hyper alert, waiting for his key in the door. I live like that. When my men are out of the house, I am silently praying all the time. Now that my son is in college the praying never stops. And you are also raising boys, beautiful, brilliant, bright-faced, full of promise and shine sons. So you know my nightmares. And I know yours.

    Sending thought circles and prayers of protection and love to you and your beautiful men. And the pictures you post here of Harry with his boys always lift my heart. You teach us in more ways than you know.

  2. The Troy Davis situation and my own love of a good, strong Black man are the reasons why GA is pretty much off the list of schools for me to consider to further my education. Sure things like this happen in Maryland where I live, home of the most wealthy Blacks in the US. But in the wallet is where you let folks know I'm not gonna stand for this 'ish any more.

    When I was younger, I desperately wanted to have a son. Situations like these remind me of the fact that while I'll probably never loose that desire, I'm glad God had another plan. As they say where I'm from in the deep south, "I ain't the one" when it comes to "messin'" with my kids.

    And I do pray REAL hard, every time my good, strong Black man drives off in his car...................

  3. If you are black in this country, there is another layer of fear that we white folks can't really know. We can try to imagine (or try NOT to imagine, mostly) but we can't really.
    If I say "I'm sorry," can you understand that it does not come from me being white but that it comes from me being human?
    Keep writing, Sister Doctor. Keep telling the truth.

  4. Huge thanks to you and Harry for sharing this. It's horrifying.

    I'm having this strong impulse to stay here, far away from the US of A, hiding my head in the sand from all the horrible crazy going on there. But it's my country at least as much as it's Michelle Bachmann's, and I have a responsibility to get my bleeding heart liberal ass back as soon as I can and keep fighting the good fight. Didn't I put myself through the hell of law school for some good reason?

    But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life. -Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

  6. You know, when I explained what happened in Georgia to my two sons this past week, I neglected to talk about the racism inherent in the death penalty -- in our culture, in general, and I'm sorry about that. I wrote about it on my blog, and I honestly forgot about that. I'm sorry. And thank you for opening my eyes and pouring into my ears.

  7. With respect, Dr. Manning; may you never need a police officer to protect you or your family

  8. It's men like your Harry and your father and your sons who are going to bury that prejudice. I'm sorry that they are suffering with it now.

  9. Whoa, Anon. Let me make one thing extraordinarily clear--I deeply appreciate and value police officers and military that protect my family and me. I am glad to have police officers protecting my neighborhood, the streets, and even on the inside of Grady Hospital. With respect, Anonymous, this is a completely separate issue from having your husband and patriarch humiliated on what is probably one of the busiest streets in Atlanta--for nothing. And guess what? If I had a dollar for every black man I knew that had a similar story to tell as my husband, I could pay both of our mortgages.

    Let me get even more clear. . . tell me this. . .just what if the alleged white BMW car-jacker was described as "a twenty-something year old blonde guy last seen wearing cargo shorts?" Do you HONESTLY think that the police officer who pulled THAT guy over on Ponce de Leon Avenue would have thought for five seconds to make HIM GET ON THE GROUND? On the GROUND? FACE DOWN? DO you???

    No need to answer that. I'm a 41 year old woman so I KNOW the answer to that. Look, man. . . if I sound defensive it's because I am. Please don't--even with respect--suggest that the very troubled feelings I (and many others) have about the dichotomy between treatment of innocent people in identical situations some simple-minded jab at police officers. No way, no how.

    Seriously? It is what it is. Racial and socioeconomic profiling is a harsh reality that I know well as a Los Angeles native and now an Atlanta resident, and I hope your realize that sometimes it leads to some extremely unfortunate outcomes.

    Like you, I hope I don't fall victim to a crime that requires police to come to my rescue. But if I should, know that on that day, just like this day, I will be immensely appreciative and grateful for it.

  10. I have honestly shed tears over this from here. Because I don't understand. I'm just a middle class white girl from NZ. I'm so removed from Troy Davis' death but it still hurts, really hurts, on a human level.

    It seems so unecessary. There is something inherently wrong here. I don't understand WHY he was executed when there were obviously massive problems with the case. I'm not even going to pretend to understand your judicial system. I don't support the death penalty at all, and here, the maximum sentence is 20 years. But then again, I do not understand your culture or your country properly, as much as I am intrigued by it. As Desmond Tutu said, 'to take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice.'

    And Emmy is right. I do believe it is the generation that you are raising that have a real opportunity to fix this. I don't have to have met your boys to understand how bright and clever they are, because it shines through in your posts. I read your blog and I am so so PROUD of the way that you and your family represent.

  11. It is impossible to put into words the fear which lives in the hearts of the mothers whose skies are lit bright not by the sun, but by sons with sweet cocoa-complexioned faces.

    If I can have but one single wish granted, it is to never feel fear or shed a tear for our bright-faced children... yours, mine, theirs... all children!

    P.S. I had to edit because the word verification word for this post (not random letters, an actual word, which practically never happens to me!) is "grants"! I certainly hope it's about my wish!!!

  12. “The profound moral question is not, ‘Do they deserve to die?’ but ‘Do we deserve to kill them?”
    Sister Helen Prejean

  13. Heartbreaking. I don't believe our country should take the life of its own people, period. Working in medicine, you work so hard to save each and every life, and this is just the opposite.

    And what happened to your husband is just wrong. Our country needs to move forward and behave as if each person matters, because each person, every child, every woman, and every man does matter.

    Thank you for posting Dr. Manning.

    Blessings to you and your family!


  14. when my boy was younger, 8 or so, i told him if he was ever in trouble on the street he should look for an older Black woman, someone who looked like his aunts, and ask her for help. i told him not to look for a police officer, because i feared that a police officer would see in my son's face a future criminal, whereas an older Black woman would see her son, her nephews, her brother, and would most likely stay with him till he got help. i really did do that. this is my reality, which i am quite sure your anonymous commenter above, the one who mentions the police, will never, ever understand.

  15. Just on a personal note. About 7 years ago, I was on my merrily way to work, when police pulled me over for expired tags (yeah I know). Any whoo, I pulled over prepared for my ticket. What I was not prepared for was to be HANDCUFFED on the corner of Wilshire and Barrington (a super busy inner section in West Los Angeles). As people stared on their way to Starbucks, I was totally humiliated and embarrassed. Praying that none of my co-workers saw me standing there on the corner crying my eyeballs out. I am bleeding what the officers to let me know I had been handcuffed. They said that they had "ran" my name and some things came up. What came up you ask, a prostitute, drug dealer with lots of warrants from DC. The only reason why they didn't arrest me was because they perp had lots of tattoos and I had none (thank God for small favors). If you knew me, the last thing you would ever suspect me of being would be a drug dealing prostitute. I was dressed very nicely (if I might add). My white ruffle top, my layered strands of pearls, my nice slacks, and 4 inch heels. When I got back to my side of town I filed a complaint with those officers. The police officer at this location said that they must have been rookie officers and flipped the monitor to be. He said with that rap sheet and looking at me, there would be know way they should have made that error and apologized. All these years later, I still feel that sting when I cross that intersection.

    With all that said, I too have a husband and 2 sons. And it is hard trying to explain to my son at 10 how to have a discerning eye when it comes to police. My husband trying to teach him about the police in Los Angeles. It is a very tough scene to navigate. You want them to trust them, but you have seen and heard so many things go wrong. It is just so hard being black in America.


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