I really appreciate the responses and thoughtful comments and reachouts from several people who read my last post. My only concern is that I’m not quite sure my message came across.
My message, which was probably tampered in my usual gentle way on these matters, was fueled by outrage. I asked a trusted friend to go back and read it and she said she only saw some anger come through once.
It’s outrage about children growing up in our society that think the color of their skin is less than, embarassing, not beautiful, not celebrated, not valued. Truthfully, long before I had children, I didn’t even dream that I would have a child who was ashamed of their own skin. It wasn’t even on my radar that a child would feel less than beautiful about being brown or black.
The second layer of outrage that was even more well hidden…two things – I am terrified that people will not see that the police are not the biggest issue here AND I’m even more terrified that thousands of people will go back in their houses, close their doors and say “racism doesn’t exist.” THIS IS OUR OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REAL CHANGE if we can see through the media and our own biases.
Recent (and past which in a maddening way didn’t seem to blip on mainstream radar-especially where women of color are concerned) events involving some members of law enforcement and people of color are horrific and outraging and we need to take drastic and thoughtful measures for change. But my facebook feed and the media tell me to beg for your careful thought around the idea that the police are the biggest enemies of black and brown people.
The police did not look after my child and prefer little white girls to her when she was little and make her feel alienated. The police do not misdiagnose black people in some healthcare facilities because they are looking at symptoms through the lens of certain health conditions that are more prevalent in Black people. The police are just a fraction of employers who may be looking at resumes and curriculum vitae and setting those aside with “ethnic” sounding names. The police are not making the laws of our land that disenfranchise people based on privilege, money and power. The police are not responsible for the unbalanced tax bases that support community schools that allow some communities to flourish educationally and others (like my neighborhood school) to barely scrape by with poor attendance rates and poor test scores. The police do not prescribe lower doses of or different kinds of medicine based on some notion that people of color don’t feel as much pain as white people (this is a real thing with research behind it). The police do not open up liquor stores, check cashing stores, convenience stores, pawn shops and other “fabulous” businesses in lower income communities to leech off of these communities, which often impact communities of color. My community was really lucky to see a Dunkin Donuts go in. It’s like a little orange and pink slice of heaven sandwiched between 3 knockoffs of Payday Loans, about 5 drive-up liquor stores, 3 tire shops and the local post office.
Racism is a SYSTEMIC, deeply rooted SOCIETAL issue that goes so far beyond where we are resting our attention at the moment.
Oh. Keep reading. Here goes part 2.
Racism exists. If I earned a dollar every time I heard a person (who is not Black) say “racism doesn’t exist,” “I didn’t own slaves, don’t blame me” “(Black) people (of color) need to get over this,” “Well, I experience reverse racism (ie Black people being “racist” against Whites),” or “everyone experiences that, not just Black people,” etc., then I wouldn’t be working because I would be a millionaire. And for every time I hear one of these statements, I also hear explicitly racist comments made: “you’re not like other Black people I know,” “you act whiter than me,” “you don’t like rap music?” “how do you get your hair like that?” or making assumptions that everyone with a Hispanic surname is from Mexico and undocumented or that everyone who has an accent from anywhere doesn’t speak good English.
I’m mad, and I’m sorry, my anger extends far beyond the police. And yours should too.