I don't understand what's happening in this country recently and I'm having a really hard time talking about the things I am grateful for this week without sounding vapid and shallow. I see a serious imbalance of justice happening around me and I feel powerless to stop it. It didn't start with Ferguson and Michael Brown and it hasn't ended with Eric Garner. It's just that these particular incidents are the ones that have set most of us off with an "Enough!".
I hear people around me discussing the protests and riots in Ferguson. They all talk about how the protests and riots make little sense. They use terms like "they" "them" and "those people". Of course these voices I'm hearing are coming from white privileged people and they don't realize that when say things like "those people" they are adding another barrier, another wall of separation. Because there is no them or they or those people. There is only us and we all share this space. "I just can't imagine." This is something I heard from people often after Chris died. Any time someone would say that to me, I'd want to scream at them. Of course you can't imagine what it's like to go through what I've gone through. Who sits around and daydreams about their loved one getting sick and dying of cancer? You can't imagine it because you've never experienced it. I've heard that same phrase often in the past few weeks in regards to Ferguson, except instead of death being the unimaginable thing, it's the destruction of public property. I think this is such a myopic way to look at it because it's not about broken windows or burnt out cars. It's about discrimination. It's about being shoved down and pushed around so many times that you start shoving and pushing back. If someone attacks you, don't you fight back? Human instinct usually is to fight back.
No, as a white woman I can't imagine what it's like to be judged because the color of my skin. I can't imagine what it's like to spend every day under suspicion. I can imagine though that over time, that constant judgment and suspicion can wear down a person. I also know that I would never want to be judged for the color of my skin. I would never want to be judged period. And I think that's what I want to say to the people talking around me. Would you want to be treated that way? I've heard people bitch and moan about a cop pulling them over and handing out a ticket for speeding or running a red light. What if that cop was pulling you over for no other reason than he didn't like the way you looked? Again. Would you want to be treated that way? Now it's very clear that if you are a black person, you're not only going to lose a maybe perfect driving record, you may also lose your life.
I am thankful for the voices that speak up and out. I am thankful for those voices who will not give up in this fight. I am thankful for those voices who inspire others to speak up and fight against injustice. I am thankful for those of us who can see that there is a serious problem here and an imbalance of justice. I am thankful for those of us who see this problem and desperately want to help to make a change.