I’m supposed to be doing something else right now: sending out my first query letter for my children’s chapter book. And it seems so unimportant. I have tears in my eyes and I am nauseous. A man’s car broke down and he was shot. Another was reading a book and he was shot. And yes, I’m going to assume it was a book until proven otherwise. What ever did happen to innocent until proven guilty, anyways?
Broken taillights, walking in the wrong neighborhood, playing with a toy gun, being black. And what makes it worse and shameful for me is that this isn’t new. It’s not as if all of a sudden police are mowing down people of color. That twenty, thirty years ago police and people of color had a wonderful relationship and only now has it turned ugly. This has been going on and we, I, have been ignorant. How many other black families wanted to or did tell the world that their son or daughter would never have drugs or a gun or fight with police? But there were no cell phones, no body cameras. It was their word against those in blue.
When someone doesn’t obey a command and walks away, or has his arms raised, where is the danger except to an officer’s pride, their need to hold power over the black man? Is that what this is? Why the rush to shoot? I am a parent and I wonder if those that shoot so fast are parents too. What do they do when their child doesn’t obey them immediately?
My son is black and my mind has gone to thoughts of moving to Paris. We were there in the spring. Now I know there are issues there, but the racial tension was not noticeable. The idea that a white person’s life is more valuable than a black one, that black people are somehow dangerous is not their code.
My son is at the age where everyone thinks he is cute. And he is. Actually he’s the cutest kid you’ll ever meet. You should see him dancing on the bed as he pretends to do karate while “shaking my bootie.” Those people, those white people, who think my son is so cute. What will they think in ten years? When he walks through their neighborhood with a hood over his head and a bag of skittles? Or god forbid his car breaks down in the wrong neighborhood, say two blocks over from our house. Or he gets pulled over for a broken taillight and forgets to not ask questions? Or he gets pulled over and in the injustice of it all forgets to raise his arms high enough or he reaches for his ID. Which picture will they show of my son on the news when he’s dead. Probably not the one from when he was six.