I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. A lot, a lot.
So when the news of #McKinney pool party fiasco blew up a couple of days ago, I thought to myself: “I. CANNOT. DEAL. WITH. THIS. ISH.”
I mean what else can we write about police brutality, about the worth of human life, about the invisibility of privilege, about fear-mongering, about the expectation that black and brown folks just be quiet and conform, about how if only black and brown people weren’t actually black and brown…
I respect authority.
I and my family have quite many law enforcement folks in our friend circles.
Not all cops are bad.
But we black and brown folks apparently have a problem with cops.
We do. Or rather, they have a problem with us.
And the increasing scrutiny, protests, anger, body cams, calls for peace, law suits, indictments and prosecutions seems to not have stemmed what feels like a persistent assault on people who look like me.
Sure, it’s easy to say that I have attained a certain amount of privilege thanks to sacrifices (by of a lot of folks before me and around me) and education, and that I’m not like *those* people in the numerous videos showing black and brown bodies being slammed to the ground, begging for their very lives. It’s easy with a bit of privilege to ask, “Well, why didn’t they just comply and do what the officer asked before he asks it?” It’s easy to dismiss the validity of the brutality that we are seeing day in and day out by digging into backgrounds of victims as young as 12, and recasting them as low-life thugs worthy of harassment, of physical and emotional brutality, of neighborhood terrorism (#yeahIsaidthatish) and of death.
It’s easy to write them us off.
It’s also apparently easy to conclude that we provoke the well-meaning folks around us committed to protecting us to turn on us.
There is seemingly a very, very, very thin line between love and hate.
Weekly…weekly…I have to have a conversation with Hope about police brutality. It doesn’t matter that we might be fighting like cats and dogs about ish going on in our house, but we will stop the war momentarily to discuss the latest video, the latest funeral, the latest indictment or why there isn’t one handed down by a grand jury.
I have to remind Hope, and myself, that not all cops are bad. I have to defend the blue line even if I’m not so sure they would defend or protect us 100% of the time. I have to try to help regain and retain trust in a system my daughter came to me hating because of her previous interactions with it with her first family.
I managed to avoid watching the video of the McKinney pool party for a couple of days. I just couldn’t watch it. I read about what happened. I saw the calls for action all over my personal FB page and all over twitter. But I would not click that link.
I didn’t want to be angry. I didn’t want to be sad. I didn’t want to be fearful. I didn’t want to imagine being a victim.
But by Monday morning, I couldn’t avoid it anymore. So after I got to the office for the day I logged on to YouTube and watched it.
There are lots of reasons my emotional response. The video starts off easy enough; a cool headed officer talking with kids, explaining why they shouldn’t run from the cops. Enter the offending officer whose yelling and attitude changed seemed to change everything about what happened next. I couldn’t believe the language being used around these kids. I couldn’t believe the ease with which white people in the video moved around at their own leisure, while black people were chased, yelled at, snatched up, forced to sit, weapons drawn upon. I couldn’t believe that a grown ass white woman spewing racial epithets fought a teenager setting off a series of events leading to this fiasco.
I couldn’t believe how much that teenaged girl, flung around and sat on, face down in the grass, looked like my daughter Hope.
Both tall with lanky limbs, long twists or braids swinging as they moseyed on the sidewalk, apparently too slow for the officer to be satisfied (Lawd does Hope walk slow!). And she may have said something snarky as teens do, I don’t know.
But seconds later, I heard her calling for her mother. I heard her begging for a reason for why this grown ass man was sitting on her. I saw two teenaged boys move towards her to help only to be chased off by a cop with a weapon drawn, suddenly chased at his behest by two other cops.
I know how easily Hope gets scared. I know how easily she reacts to uncomfortable situations. She might’ve run to try desperately to get away from the unfolding drama, but that might’ve got her sat upon as well. I see her in my mind’s eye, crying for me, begging for me to come see about her, to come save her.
And I see me rescuing her, and hugging her, smoothing her hair, wiping her tears and calling someone to come sit with her while I proceed to lose my ish and wreck shop. #rideordie
It would really be nice to live in world where I didn’t have to have this conversation with my daughter every week. It would be really nice to live in a space where my skin didn’t mark me as other in ways that people apparently find threatening.
I. CANNOT. DEAL. WITH. THIS. ISH.