I wrote this blog post while the kids were at school the other day after watching the latest video of a presumably unjust police shooting. I can’t believe the words “latest video” are coming out of my mouth, as that insinuates a one-off devastating misjudgment has instead become a common occurrence for our country. I was unsure I’d ever publish this post, but then my son came home from school yesterday with this bracelet and it was as if the universe was shaming me for not speaking up. And I’m embarrassed.
I’m embarrassed that I have to explain to my 6-yr-old that people are not always safe in this country due to the color of their skin. I’m embarrassed to explain what racism is, because when you explain at a 6-yr-old level that it is when someone is treated different due to the amount of pigment in their skin tone, it is as ridiculous as it sounds at a 38-yr-old level.
I’m embarrassed that, when my 74-yr-old mom told me of civil rights stories from her youth, those were set in the “olden days”. And yet, here we are. I will describe these incidents to my children and they will look at me with the same barbaric judging eyes I gave my mom when she told me about separate water fountains and cruelty she witnessed as a child growing up in the South.
I am embarrassed that my darker-skin-but-still-white husband has to think twice about wearing a hoodie at night, lest he be confused for a black man. I’m embarrassed that I feel lucky he isn’t black.
I’m embarrassed to feel lucky to be a white female.
I’m embarrassed that we look for skeletons in the closets of the deceased to find a reason why they were killed in cold blood, when I know damn well that would never happen to me regardless of any prior crimes I may have committed.
I’m embarrassed that so many of the accused officers are on paid leave. If an officer killed my child or my husband, I could not contain the rage inside me to then think of that officer getting paid to sit at home while I have to return to the office on Monday like nothing happened so I can pay my rent.
I’m embarrassed that our police force isn’t better trained. They have an impossible job to make split-second decisions that can mean life or death for them or others. They have my utmost respect for the occupation they chose, to serve and protect. And yet, when a CEO encounters inefficiencies or failures in his or her organization, they immediately pivot to amend the problem. Unjustly killing innocent civilians is clearly a problem in our country. And yet.
I’m embarrassed that I am grateful for the white blanket of comfort that I will likely never fear for my life when a police officer is nearby. I’m embarrassed that there are 21.5 million black American males who will never know what that blanket of comfort feels like.
I’m embarrassed that our country claims to be the Leader of the Free World, but our citizens are truly only free if their skin color is white. I’m embarrassed that it took me 38 years to understand this.
I’m embarrassed that, at times, I allowed being proper and polite to win over being bold and brave to stand up for those who had no voice. I am embarrassed that I still have friends in my life who would say the same racist statements again today. I’m embarrassed that keeping those people in my life is even a debate for me.
I’m embarrassed I’m raising my white kids in a world where they see things like Black Lives Matter and then deduce that Black Lives Matter Less Than White Lives is also a choice.
I’m embarrassed it has taken me this long to speak out.
I’m embarrassed that I have absolutely no idea what to do to prevent these atrocities from continuing.
So what do we do, America? We are better than this. We should be past this. And yet.