44 Years

“I’m living in a world where my white husband was pulled over just a few days ago by a cop and they joked and bantered. He was sent on his way with a warning and a small ticket. I’m sitting in the reality that the same cannot be said for my brown boys who could do everything right: be respectful, honest, calm, and still be gunned down at point blank range. It’s so painful to wonder if I’ve put my children in danger simply because they have a black mother. It’s really hard to not see this black body as a liability today.” Osheta Moore

“A black mom drove her son to church today for a youth event because she was too afraid to let him walk (as he usually does). This is black reality. I gave her a huge hug and lamented with her over how black bodies are treated in our nation. But I’m haunted by the thought that nothing has changed…I mean, hugs are nice, but she will continue to fear for the lives of her 4 beautiful boys.

What if this were our reality?

I believe it is. I believe we belong to one another. I believe we are kin…which means her problem is my problem. God help me to make Black Lives Matter.” Brian Dolleman

But, in reality, it’s not physically our problem. Especially if we are white, middle to upper class. Our privilege affords us so much more than what we give to our black brothers and sisters.

I don’t have to worry about my husband being pulled over by the police. I don’t have to fear for the lives of my 4 boys. It has never crossed my mind that they would be anything other than safe when dealing with law enforcement. And they haven’t been. They’ve had more than their fair share of tickets and various warnings for broken tail lights, expired tags and speeding.

And they have always come home.

The only damage inflicted is to their bank accounts and possibly their pride.

I have been pulled over and given a speeding ticket twice in my many years of driving. I wasn’t treated badly, nor did I fear for my safety. Was I annoyed? Absolutely. And my thoughts were, why are they wasting their time pulling me over when they can be dealing with real criminals? And in my head, the picture of those real criminals was almost always a black male.

This is white privilege rearing its ugly head. And why we have a race problem in America.

When I was in 3rd grade, I made friends with a little black girl at school. She attended my school because her mom was our teacher. I played at her house. She played at my house. Until a few of our neighbors came over and told my mom that we didn’t need to have her coming into our neighborhood to play. Because she was black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

In the early 80’s, one of our good friends played basketball at the high school affiliated with the church we attended. Another Christian school wouldn’t allow them to come to their gym to play their scheduled game. Because he was black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

When my older boys were young, we were sitting in a Wendy’s near Christmas time and a black Santa walked in. I’ll admit, I had never seen a black Santa before. As I’m sure most of the other white parents hadn’t either. The children didn’t seem to notice. He was simply Santa. They were so excited; parents not so much. Some of them wouldn’t let their children go and talk to Santa. Because he was black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

In my daughter’s 4th grade class, a little boy came up to her and her Hispanic friend and asked to work with their group. The little girl he was supposed to work with told him she didn’t want to work with him because he was black. These are 9 and 10 year olds. And this is 44 years after my incident in school when I was about this same age. 44 years — things should be different.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

A month or so ago, a photo was circulating on fb of two young black men sitting with a pretty, white, blonde young lady. Nothing illegal or immoral going on. Just sitting, seemingly enjoying each other’s company. Good lord, the comments from white people about how their daughters wouldn’t be allowed to be in that situation and if she was, they would “yank her ass right out of there.” Because the young men were black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

Saying, ‘teach your children not to run from cops’ and then not acknowledge that your white, middle class children wouldn’t likely get shot if they did run from police only perpetuates the issue. Mothers and fathers fear for their sons and daughters every day because if something happened and they did run from cops, they may very well get shot. Because they are black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

A Christian blogger applauded Christy Sheats’ shooting of her daughters because they were being promiscuous with black men. She did what she had to do because “Race mixing is an ungodly thing. Not only for the children born of this sin, but for the grandparents who would have to carry this burden. Mrs Sheats was the picture of elegance and I know she would not want to explain to her friends why she was carrying around a yellow mixed baby that her daughters had created…” Thousands of people commented, agreeing wholeheartedly with her. Because the young men were black.

And this is why we have a race problem in America.

I could fill pages and pages of stories just like those above. I’m sure you could as well. Something has to give. It’s easy to say #AllLivesMatter from a place of privilege. It’s easy to say that if we have black friends there isn’t a race problem; that we aren’t racist. But think about what your first thoughts are when you read about the shooting of a black man. I know what mine are a good portion of the time. That’s where change needs to start. In our own hearts and in our own minds.

It goes without saying that #WhiteLivesMatter. That #BlueLivesMatter. I can say both of those things because of my privilege. And the fact that my father and all three of my brothers have worked in law enforcement in some capacity or another their entire lives. But our first thoughts on hearing that another black man has been gunned down should show us that #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t hold the same importance.

That change begins with each and every one of us.

We need to listen with open minds and open hearts to our black brothers and sisters.

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