Lafayette Square, Washington DC
The past few weeks have left me speechless. I didn't succeed in finding the words to express my horror, my rage, and my sadness in the aftermath of the senseless killing of yet another black man.
So I listened. Being a white person in the US comes with a lot of privileges. Of many I have always known, but there are many I haven't been aware of. Most I didn't even think about twice. Things I've always taken for granted - like I surely didn't expect to die when I was pulled over several years ago because I didn't stick to the speed limit on the "loneliest highway in America".
One of the stories I recently read: After attending a conference a 51-year old black man was on his way back to Sacramento, driving along the interstate when his car was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol. Instinctively, he put his hands on the dashboard and felt his heart racing in his chest. He had taught his children to immediately put their hands on the dashboard when pulled over so that police officers could see that they weren't armed. It is important to mention that the black man was in the passenger seat. The car was driven by a white, plain-clothed law enforcement officer.
The black man was Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Let that sink in for a moment.
A respected, elected black state official still reacts with fear and caution when confronted with law enforcement in a seemingly harmless situation. So how does a 17-year old black teenager feel, a 24-year old black man, a 43-year old black father? What do the mothers, wives and children of these men feel and fear on a daily basis?
I chose not to watch the video of George Floyd's violent killing. But in a podcast I heard his last words, his pleading with the police officer who was kneeling on his neck (with his hands in his pockets!). They haunt me. How much more do they affect the black community - anybody, really, who has a heart?
No, I didn't join the protests, but I applaud and support everybody who get out and let their voices be heard (I'm not talking about the rioters and looters). It's our constitutional right to assemble peacefully. That's why the violent break-up of a peaceful protest in Washington's Lafayette Square enrages me so much.
A lot is at stake in our country.
I may not find the words right now, but I will not be silent.