My Whiteness, Grief, and the Murder of Black Men

I don’t write about my loss on public platforms or social media. Ever. Today I don’t have a choice. At the lost of Terence Crutcher, I write through tears.

My father died fairly suddenly when I was 17. I wasn’t prepared for it. 8 years later, my brother Adam died abruptly from drug overdose. I was even less prepared for that.

Every day across America, black families face these same losses, for far less comprehensible reasons.

I struggle every day to accept the death of my brother. We were only 16 months apart. We were closer than most siblings, I think. He was one of my best friends. He was my favorite person to be around. He overdosed on heroin when we all thought he was clean.

As hard as it is to grapple with his loss and all of the things that could have been done to prevent it — not just within our family’s support system but within society and policies that actually DO something to tackle the rampant drug problem in this country — I can’t even begin to fathom the overwhelming disgust, frustration, uncontrollable anger, and what I imagine to be the deepest kind of sadness someone feels when their loved one is shot down and killed by the police, the very people who are sworn to protect them.

Every time I read another story in the news about a black person being killed by the cops, I cry because I know what it feels like to lose your brother and your father, and I know how hard life is after that kind of loss. What I don’t know is how hard it must be to have to watch those videos, and have the whole country speculating on whether or not your loved one deserved to die. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have to be constantly reminded by the willfully ignorant, the blatantly racist, and the mainstream media of the plight of ones blackness while also grieving the loss of someone you love.

As if the grief isn’t hard enough.

When will we say ENOUGH? Every time I read another one of these stories, my grief rears its scathing head, and I’m brought back again to the day my dad died, and to the phone call from my mom and brother that our worst fears came true and this time my brother OD’d and wasn’t coming back.

But…

This isn’t about me. Despite the tremendous tragedies I’ve endured in my short lifetime thus far, and the loss that I’ll forever grieve, and the endless work I need to put into repairing myself after my world was turned upside down…

I’m white. I didn’t grow up worrying about my brother or my dad getting killed every time they left the house. If I have boys of my own someday, I won’t ever have to worry about them getting pulled over by a cop on their way home from school or work and being murdered because of a broken tail light.

That constant worrying, that comprehension of the likelihood of your loved one’s mortality, that incessant frustration and anger that eats away at you because you know you can’t protect your family and you can’t trust those whose very job it is to do so… like screaming but no one can fucking hear you because no one wants to fucking listen and no one wants to lift a god damn fucking finger to fight to make sure our black brothers and sisters stop dying at the hands of law enforcement.

I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like. The pain I’ve endured from losing my dad and my brother… trust me when I say not one of us has an excuse to stay quiet. This is my pledge, my vow, right here — I will no longer sit on the sidelines. For my dad and my brother, and for dads and brothers everywhere, I promise to fight.

I am an ally. #BlackLivesMatter