The juxtaposition of the passing of Robin Williams with the death of Michael Brown, shot by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a stunning example of the disconnect we have in this country. So many posts on social media about depression, suicide and reaching out for help. It made me wonder how many people ever think about the never-ending impact of discrimination that ultimately leads to the deaths of African-Americans, Latinos and so many others in this country, at the hands of the people who have pledged to protect us as citizens.
America has been sleep-walking into a situation where the police have become the occupiers in some neighborhoods. Dressed in fatigues, carrying weapons that belong on a battlefield, not in a residential neighborhood, and seeing those who they have sworn to protect as “the enemy.” As noted by the ACLU (https://www.aclu.org/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-policing), the excessive militarization of the police has become more than a ticking time bomb, it is now exploding in the deaths of people across the country.
How do we de-escalate this situation? Ferguson, Missouri looks like a war zone, with the frustration of so many years finally boiling over. But it’s not just in Ferguson, people across the country are venting their frustrations and standing with the people of Ferguson, like these students from Howard University:
I don’t have any answers, I just know that it seems like we have reached a tipping point. I know that I will continue doing what I can to educate people and try to work on changing the tide. But it has an impact on all of us, the sleepless nights, the anger, the micro- and macro-aggressions that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Worrying about what might happen to our children, our husbands, ourselves…it ultimately damages the psyche, not just of an individual, but of an entire country.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m an angry mother to two boys who shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they are carrying a toy gun while playing in the front yard. I shouldn’t have to worry that my son will be driving in a couple of years and I’ll have to teach him how to avoid being pulled over by the police.
I’m angry that the world looks at the events in Ferguson, Missouri and many will use it as an example of why those black people deserve to be gunned down.
I’m angry that too many of our elected officials are unwilling to face up to the violence and acknowledge the frustrations that lie underneath it.
I’m angry that we lose people we love to depression and suicide, that we don’t take mental illness seriously in this country, treating it like the medical condition that it is.
I’m angry that we can’t support a healthcare system in this country that pays for critical medications for those who can’t afford it.
I’m angry that I can’t sleep at night, worrying about what is next for our country, and wondering how we can stop the violence here and abroad.
I hope the petitions help, but it’s going to take more than that. I can’t afford to let go of this anger, just like the folks in Ferguson, Missouri. I plan to channel my anger into action, to fight to make sure that my boys aren’t the next victims. Class, manners, education, and even being mixed-race – none of it can protect them in the end. This country needs to take a long look in the mirror – but I know that’s not possible in this political climate. Too much of our politics is being driven by hate. It’s up to us to change the equation, even if it’s one person, one elected official, one police officer, one teacher, one friend at a time…
I keep editing this post, because my feelings keep evolving — I was hoping to write an upbeat post about the wonderful day I had – and it has truly been an amazing day today. I woke up next to the man I love, enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with my boys, then went out on the lake. We are staying at our lake house this weekend, at Lake LBJ and even though the temps are in the 100s, there’s a nice breeze and we can jump in the lake whenever we need to cool off. It’s not difficult to find joy in a day like today…but sometimes I feel guilty that I can find enjoyment in the midst of all the chaos in the world today. I know that I live an incredibly privileged life and I’m always trying to find ways to do more…
I have worries, as we all do, but I also try to find joy in the simple pleasures of a summer’s day. It’s at times like these that I remember the serenity prayer:
I have enjoyed a special day with my boys, but I also worry about their future in the midst of a world that doesn’t always protect the innocent…and so I will also take action where I can. Signing a petition is an incredibly small step for me alone, but many voices together can help lead to change. If you care about this issue, then I urge you to sign, too – click on the link below to go to the petition: