Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind
Beware the day
They change their mind
– Langston Hughes
As the bodies of black and brown men and women continue to pile up like casualties in a terror attack, I am forced to relive, again and again, the death of my own child from injustice.
My son died from negligent homicide, killed by doctors who knew he was gravely ill and who refused to treat him because he was low-income and had no insurance.
He died at home with me holding his hand. If I have anything to be grateful for, it is that I got to say goodbye. I got to tell him one last time that I loved him and that life without him would be so, so hard.
In the last two days, I have watched video of the blatant injustice of two executions of black men who had committed no crime other than being black men in the path of violent, power-mad cops.
I watched as the widow of Alton Sterling talked to the press and their son lost his composure and wept. I did the same. I’m still weeping after watching the video of the execution of 32-year-old Philando Castile in Minnesota last night.
I weep for his mother and his girlfriend and for the little girl who was traumatized by witnessing his murder and the abuse of her mother. Imagine a 4-year-old feeling compelled to tell her mother she’s there for her after such an atrocity.
I weep for all of the families and friends of people who are executed summarily with no trial, without reason, without respect for the fact that they are human beings.
These victims of violent racism are my children. They are my brothers and sisters. They deserve justice, although their families are unlikely to see it.
One by one, Freddie Gray’s killers have been let off. No one is guilty, even though a young man is dead with no trial. The cops were his judge, jury and executioners, and that, apparently is OK in our society.
Yes, I know cops face danger every day, but if they can’t see the difference between real danger and racism-fueled perception of danger, they need to be off the force.
If they think they have the authority to shoot someone whose only offense is driving with a broken tail light (and I know first-hand of cases where an officer broke a tail light after a stop so he could claim justification for the stop), they need to be in jail.
Selfishly, I am grateful that my surviving child is white. But his granddaughter is biracial, and her skin is dark and her hair black and curly. She is beautiful and smart and funny, and as she grows up, she will be in danger because she isn’t white.
This is unacceptable to me, as it has been since well before my great-granddaughter was born. We can not continue to allow this. We must stand up and demand justice. When cops walk away unscathed, we have to demand federal civil rights charges be brought.
We have to wake up to the injustice here because there are still people who believe these murdering cops are justified.
When a black person is summarily executed, we see his record all over social media within hours; when a white person murders someone, we learn about his church activities or that he was just a troubled young man and we should all be upset that he didn’t get the mental health care he needed.
We live in a racist culture, and if you can’t see it, you are part of the problem.
Stand up and be heard. If you’re a cop, speak out against this violence.
I stand with my brothers and sisters, my children, my beloved fellow human beings. I will do all I can to defend you. I will try to protect you. I will speak out for you.
Tell me where I am needed and I will be there.
I love you.