I don’t really know what to do with my heart and brain. My jaw dropped yesterday when I saw the Eric Garner news. In retrospect I guess I should be shocked, but I was beyond shocked. I was nauseated.
Last week when I posted this, a simple short post about how I am an ally, there were people who used words like “thug” on Facebook to describe Michael Brown. My post was not about Michael Brown. It has a picture of my three-year old nephews and my two-year old son. You bet I took offense, and started un-friending people quickly, when they showed those kinds of responses to a peaceful post.
You guys? I am at a loss. I simply do not understand anything that is going on.
A man was taken down by cops using an illegal move. His death was ruled a homicide. The entire murder was on video. The guy who did it, a white cop, doesn’t get charged at all. BUT the guy who shot the video? A Latino man? Gets charged on a gun felony even though he was unarmed during the incident.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand how this can happen, and yet last night, as I am combing through Facebook, I see comments DEFENDING this ruling. Calling Garner a “thug” and saying if he hadn’t broken the law in the first place, he wouldn’t have to worry about the cops. They say it is the same as Michael Brown.
All I could do was blink.
And agree, that yes, it is similar to Michael Brown.
A cop took down an unarmed man and got away with it. Yup. Same.
The arguments that “he had it coming” or “if you obey it wouldn’t happen” piss me off in a way I can’t even describe. People say “well, he broke the law.” So what? I break the law when I speed every morning on my way to work. Every day I go 80 mph down the highway when the speed limit says 70. Have I gotten pulled over and ticketed? Yes. Do I continue to do it? Yes. So does that mean speeding is punishable by death at a cops hands next time?
You know what? Don’t even answer that. It’s a moot point because I am a thirty-something white lady who does not look like a “thug”. I don’t have to worry about this.
I have had students screw up and break the law over and over before getting clean and sober. Did they get arrested? Yes. Did they get killed by the cops? No. And in each case? I am thinking of a white kid. They don’t have this worry.
But you know who does? Members of my own family including my nephews some day. When cop sees them, do you think they will know they have white parents who are in education and have multiple degrees? Nope. They will see black men.
Studies show that by age SEVEN people begin to look at black males as more threatening than white males. SEVEN YEARS OLD. That is a third grader.
Eric Garner “looked” threatening to the cop because he was a large black man.
That is eff-ed up, yo.
And you know what, take race out of it for a minute (although I think it has EVERYTHING to do with race). HE WAS UNARMED.
What is it going to take for the American public to wake the heck up? What will it take for us to say, “No. Stop. This isn’t right”?
WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
Because obviously even a video of a homicide doesn’t do it.
My heart and mind are so confused. I just don’t understand how people–people who are good people–can be so blind and racist. How can that exist in the same person? I have unfriended people on Facebook that up until now, I could handle having differing opinions on most political things. But this? This is a deal breaker.
Using racist language like “thug” and making sweeping statements about how law breakers “deserve” to get 12 bullets pumped in them or suffocated to death is something I can’t tolerate. I even saw someone compare Eric Garner to a sick dog that needed to be put down. Just typing that makes me want to vomit.
Last night Eddie and I had an issue. In the end, he told me he didn’t like me, didn’t care about me, and didn’t care about the treat I promised him (in place of doing something else that we couldn’t do). He threw a fit. Once we got home, he still expected the treat and I said, “No. You called me mean. You said you didn’t like me. You said you didn’t care about the treat. Forget it then.” He pouted. Then after putting on his pj’s he came over to read his nightly homework to me. I said, “Nope. Read to your dad tonight.” He asked me why and I told him, “Because you don’t like me or care about me. My feelings are hurt.” He was devastated. After about 10 minutes, we talked about why he was crying and he admitted that it felt awful to have someone not care about you. Of course we made up and all is fine.
But he had to feel what his words felt like. What they did to my heart.
Our issue is a far cry from making a statement that an unarmed man deserved to die, but it all boils down to a lack of empathy.
I don’t understand how people can say things without thinking about other people’s feelings and experiences. How can we lack even the most basic empathy for other human beings?
And I should point out that I am NOT anti-cop. Some of my great friends are the spouses of cops. People I went to high school with and greatly respect are cops. This is not me saying police officers are evil. This is about me saying something in our minds is evil. Something is messed up when authority figures can KILL unarmed citizens and that is Ok.
That is not Ok. That is not what we want to perpetuate or encourage in this country, is it? That we are a police state that deems any law breaker punishable by death on the spot? It’s not what I want.
If this post offends you, or you feel like writing a scathing comment about how these men deserved to die somehow, don’t. Just don’t. Just quit reading my blog right now. If we are friends on Facebook, just quietly unfriend me.
Because I can’t tolerate this anymore.
The faces I see are those of my students and my family. MY FAMILY.
My heart simply cannot handle the hate.