Like many of you, my social media timelines have been flooded with frustrated, hurt, angry posts in reaction to the senseless death of yet another black man at the hands of police. This time, it was Mr. Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was captured on a grainy cell phone camera. Two cops took him down and shot him multiple times at close range ending his life. His kids saw that video. I saw it, too.
Here's what I'm thinking about:
Just maybe, you are my friend and your world hasn't been flooded at all with bitter one liners and battle cries from your peers about this. Just maybe, you have checked your social media threads of choice several times but, because this doesn't hit quite as close to home for you or those whose posts fill your screen, you had no idea about this incident until just now. If that is the case, consider this an invitation. First, to Google #altonsterling to understand what happened (if you weren't aware already.) Then, I invite you--my nonblack friend---to be as sickened, appalled and bothered by those hashtags as me.
That is, if you weren't already.
I want you to imagine talking to your sons about police and feeling your heart turn a tiny relieved flip when your husband comes home from a regular day--alive. Talk to your kids, make this a big deal in your house, and please, join us in being pissed off--because everything depends upon that. Nothing changes when we don't provide anybody space to empathize. But now that you have the space to stand with me, I want you to know that any indifference here forward will be hurtful--whether I am telling you or not.
I think we are all super guilty of polarizing others when upset about the things that affect our own communities. Our soapboxes are so tall that they make people shrink, hide and peep through their blinds like voyeurs. Black, white, straight, gay--we build these walls that won't let good people be allies--or at least let them ask enough questions to feel something. And no, I don't think it's intentional. Pain just makes us all impulsive.
At least that's what I think.
For my friends who don't know what it's like to worry in this way about your father, your brother, your husband and your sons. . .I want you to read this post (if you haven't already.) If you feel so inclined, you can also read or re-read this one, too. It will give you more perspective of what it's like raising black boys in America.
Then my hope is that you will accept my invitation. To ask questions. To comment. To say something. To feel something. But especially to be pissed the eff off. Because no movement ever really gets moving until more than just the oppressed get mad. My prayer is that we can all be a little more aware of each other's joy, pain, sunshine and rain.
This is our reality. Thank your God if it isn't yours.