Friday, July 8, 2016

Somewhere Safe

Okay, so first of all - Mischa Barton in a bikini drinking rosé with a sad face and posting about Black Lives Matter..uh, thanks for that Marissa Cooper. This isn't about you. It isn't about me either, but, I want to write about my reaction and also my experiences and thoughts on race relations. I think it's important that people talk openly about this stuff. To speak calmly and intelligently and not fight. Just discuss. So, Wednesday I was laying around on the couch, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when the Alton Sterling video appeared and I clicked on it and watched it without really knowing I was about to see what I saw. Being brutally honest, I thought "Not another black person being shot by a cop. The media loves these". I guess I thought I was going to see an aftermath or beforemath of police shooting a black person (not the ACTUAL killing), where it could possibly be debated in a court of law what actually occurred (for example, once I watched a video on the news and was yelling at the t.v., "Shoot him!!". The guy was acting like a lunatic and jumping around with a weapon and there is a time when it becomes kill or be killed.) What I watched was not kill or be killed. I watched a murder. He told him to stop moving and he did and then the police shot him. There wasn't anything he could have done differently and that is murder in my eyes, but, we'll leave that up to a jury of his own peers. Sadly, I've seen the aftermath of a murder before. One time when I was 16 years old and just learning to drive, I got lost and saw a young guy with a bloody abdomen being pulled on a stretcher into an ambulance. That shook me up pretty good. I pulled over and called my dad from a pay phone and told him to pick me up now. He tried to reason with me and explain about how to get home, "The streets count down to the river so just..". "No, dad, pick me up and take me somewhere safe.". My reaction to the video was basically shock. Shock that lasted as I am writing now. Watching the second video, I didn't give a shit what color skin anyone had- I felt like it was me sitting next to my fiance being shot for no reason and watching him slowly die. I was the woman trying to stay calm. A gun was pointed in MY face. I wanted to understand why it happened. The police officers' behavior in both the Philando Castile and the Alton Sterling video reminded me of when I first found my dog, George. Our first walk, I took him to my brother's house and my niece was kind of waving her hands around his face and with no warning at all- he bit her! That was not necessary to bite her. He bit her because he was aggressive and fearful of all blondes in the same way the officers seemingly harbor fear-aggression toward black men. Also, like the police officers, I think George behaved like this because he'd seen some shit before. "Seeing shit" is not an excuse for biting and this is not an excuse for murder. The cause of the behavior needs to be corrected. Hopefully, these officers have a fair trial and they go to jail for their respective murders. Hopefully strings aren't pulled as they commonly are behind-the-scenes in government issues. So this is my stab-in-the-dark of why this might have happened. What can we do about it? The obvious things are peaceful protests, get involved in your community and politics and vote for people that believe like you do. Show up at the the meetings and make a lot of noise. It DOES make a difference. Teach your children to love and respect all people. Love one another. I asked my mom why she wasn't racist even though she was raised under conditions where maybe she should have been, just out of curiosity. She said when she was in grade school, they played a tape which explained what the word "prejudice" means. It meant to judge before you know a person. She thought that sounded illogical and she was a logical person. She also had black classmates and learned they were different individual people. She could see that people are all different even if they have the same skin color as each other. A child could figure that out, but, Americans haven't. I wonder if they still teach that in schools? They should. I remember a few times when I was a very small child, my mom seemed to be passionate about not judging a person for their skin color. One time when I was really little we were at IGA (I think, whatever the grocery store on Madison was back in the early 80's) and I saw a really tall, really dark-complexioned black man and I pointed at him and asked why his skin was different than mine. The man smiled and moseyed on and my mom got a little tense, which kinda alerted me that what she was about to tell me was important, and explained to me that people have lots of different skin colors and then she explained to me about prejudice. Other things happened where I felt my mom was very sad when she witnessed racist things and I took that with me. I am thankful I was raised like this and able to talk openly about race and race issues. I don't know any of the answers. The world feels like a scary place. I wish I could just call my dad now and ask him to take me somewhere safe.

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