I have a confession to make.
Over the past several months, during coverage of police shooting black men, I held tight to the belief that the men must have done something to provoke the officers – maybe the officer thought the man was reaching for a gun, and the officer was acting to protect himself. I knew the brutality was still not justified regardless, but I simply couldn’t understand – or didn’t want to believe – how or why a police officer would shoot without reason. I imagined the offending officers going home and feeling regret, remorse, embarrassment at their actions. Call that sliver of hope what you will: naiveté, maybe ignorance. I held on to that belief because I did not want to believe the alternative: that a human being sworn to protect other human beings, sworn to uphold the law, could ever break that code by killing someone for no apparent reason. I wrestled with the truth even after knowing that it’s happening close to home, as my husband told me first hand stories of witnessing racial profiling while out with his friends.
The Philando Castile incident has forever and irrevocably shattered those beliefs.
I am frozen today, wondering how in 2016, with our first black President in office, this senseless violence can continue. I am ashamed that I haven’t paid more attention to the follow-up from the previous incidents. Some instances I followed in great detail; other times I chose to look away because I didn’t want to take the time and space to process the pain that came with the truth.
To my white friends who want to believe the best and ignore the truth, as I did, and who continue to look for a reason to justify the actions of the offending officers: it’s time to wake up. I know the truth is heartbreaking. Slow down and take it in. The fact that you have not experienced racial profiling or hatred of this magnitude does not mean it does not exist. And it does not give us the excuse to minimize it. We cannot continue to ignore the truth and carry on in oblivion. These are crimes committed against humanity. They cannot continue. I keep thinking of my black friends – what if it happened to one of them? To the families & friends of the victims – it IS them.
To my black friends and interracial families: I cannot imagine how these incidents make you feel – the fear they must strike in you. I don’t have many words of comfort knowing that the skin color you were born in could automatically determine the way you are treated. It’s not right. I love you and I stand, heartbroken and outraged, with you. ❤
To my friends who are police officers or family of them: I know that the bad choices of the officers involved mean you have to deal with threats, anger, disrespect, and words thrown at you that you do not deserve. I’m sorry. I recognize that these situations likely have elevated the fear you live with on a daily basis: fear that you will be attacked for wearing a uniform, fear that you will make the wrong call, fear that you will make a fatal mistake. Maybe you question your training or which of your fellow officers you can trust. I hope you do not question your judgment or your commitment to your vocation. Thank you for continuing to put yourself at risk to protect the rest of us. I pray for your safety and wisdom. Know that there are still people who support you and do not lump you in with the officers who made those fatal choices.
To the police departments in question: I pray that the chiefs and administration realize what’s on the line. That healing cannot come without honesty. That restoration will not happen unless the truth is wholly revealed, mistakes are admitted, responsibility is taken, apologies are made, and justice is done. I pray for strength, wisdom, and courage for those who are making these decisions. For the offending officers: I pray you have strong community to walk with you during this time who advise you to do what is right even though it hurts.
To everyone: Can we commit to loving one another better? To refrain from snap judgements? To getting to know one another on a personal level, not assuming anything about anyone because of their race, religion, sex, or political affiliation?
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
#saytheirname #blacklivesmatter #philandocastile #altonsterling