This morning as I was driving to drop my daughter and nephew off to school, traffic came to a stop in front of me and because the cars on both sides of the road paused, I was sure it was because of a school bus. But when I looked at the clock, I realized that it was too late for that, and saw the man in the car in front of me get out of his vehicle and approach what I now recognized as two young black boys—teenagers I’m guessing—fighting in the street. The black male driver got in between them and attempted to break them up, and then I heard the sirens and my first reaction was, “I hope they send a black cop.” And then I cried.
I cried for whatever they were fighting for in the first place. I cried because I felt like only a black cop could safely contain the situation. I cried because I even felt that way. I cried for all of the decent officers, of all cultures, races, and backgrounds, who get the blow-back every time one of them does something wrong. I just cried. And as the babies got excited by the sounds of the sirens, and exclaimed with joy over the first pair of lights popping into view, I cried even harder. I cried because it was a black cop who jumped out and calmed one boy, but then had to wrestle with the other who refused to be contained. I cried as another non-black officer arrived, skidded to a stop and hopped out to help his comrade slam and pen this boy to the ground, and still he struggled with them. I cried because the baby boy in the back, in his innocence excited by the sirens will very likely one day not be so excited to see or hear police lights and sirens. I cried because my baby girl had to ask what they were doing with that boy on the ground. I cried because as I inched past to continue my journey, the emotions of this week flooded me and I just couldn’t stop.
I couldn’t stop my heart for hurting for the family of Trayvon Martin and all of the circumstances that led up to his death. I thought of his family and the prayers I’ve muttered for them, for God to heal their places of hurt, and not allow them to get caught up in the wrong things, but that ultimately he’d give them wisdom on how he’d have them to proceed. I thought of George Zimmerman, and wondered even in light of his obvious culpability, what brought that man to this point and how does he feel right now. I thought of all the hateful comments and messages I’ve read about him, and most shockingly, about Trayvon, and thought how could people be so hateful when an innocent life has been taken.
I wondered how people could spin his murder into a political jump-off, arguing how liberals will use this to try to push through stricter gun control, or how conservatives don’t care about “us”, see how they let his killer walk free. I read hateful language and speech be tossed around message boards as casually as ‘Good Mornings”, and “How ya doings”. And I listened, watched, and read commentators, and “experts” volley about how the situation would’ve been different if the child, yes child, as 17 is still defined as by law, had been white and Zimmerman black. And it hit me, that wrapped up in emotional turmoil, our true colors always shine through.
I recent blog post suggested that this was different from other perceived injustices. That somehow Trayvon’s death has galvanized the community to long-overdue action, and proposed the question why? Why is his death the rallying point for so many? Sure, there was outrage over Amadou Diallo’s murder, but it felt nothing like this. Is it because Trayvon was a child? Is it because he was armed only with examples of the innocence childhood represents—candy and a drink? Is it because the shooter still has avoided police custody? Why him? Why now?
All things being related, we are in a dangerous place in our society. We have the luxury of sitting anonymously behind computer screens and inciting actions that can easily snowball beyond our control. From the obvious racial attacks on our (meaning the American) President, and the accompanying ignorance of those who perpetrate it, to the blatant disregard of due process in apprehending a person who should be the prime suspect in a homicide, and our educators showing a lack of common sense when dealing with students from varying backgrounds, the facade of years of forced and faux equality and justice in this nation is cracking and the flood of racist vitriol, heated actions, and non-unifying behavior threatens to drown the very spirit of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness we hold so dear.
So I cried, and sometimes that’s alright.