I just can’t. I was going to write about foster parenting this month because it is National Foster Care month. But I just can’t. (That can be a story for another time because I do have something to say about foster parenting).
But right now, in this minute, I sit at my computer in my living room with my two boys sitting at the counter eating a late breakfast. I sit with tears in my eyes and raw emotions that are bubbling to the surface because of the Ahmaud Arbery story.
Here I sit, furiously typing on my computer, raw and hurried, to get my thoughts on paper. And this morning, this white momma of brown boys just can’t. I just cannot. Not only for my boys, but for my boyfriend and for his kids. And honestly for every person of color in this country for whom this is just one more story. Shouldn’t this story bring me to tears even if I did not know a single person of color? Even if I didn’t love a single person of color? Shouldn’t the fact that someone can get killed for running down a street because they might be someone who might have committed a crime bring me to tears? Take a breath and turn the tables. Think about the uproar if two black men chased down a white man who was jogging because he might be someone who might have committed a crime. And so Ahmaud Arbery has to be humanized to even begin to make people think that this might not be ok. His family has to tell stories of his life and his good works and his girlfriend just to maybe make someone think he was a real person who didn’t deserve to get shot while jogging. He has to have led an exemplary life – never having made a single mistake to humanize him. Yet still, the fact that he was chased down in a truck by armed men will be followed by the inevitable but….but….but….no matter how perfect he may have been. Because that is what we do in this country.
My boys run at night. They wear hoodies and roam the hills. My youngest has had some trouble. If he was chased down in a truck and got shot, I have no doubt that his past would be brought up. As if he is not worth living because he isn’t a straight A student heading to college on a scholarship. The media would dredge up every mistake, every day he skipped school, every REASON it is ok that he was shot. But in this country, it doesn’t matter. If you are white and you kill someone who is not white, the burden of proof is on the victim. Every time. If you are a person of color and you kill someone who is white, the burden of proof is on the shooter. Every time.
So if you are reading this and your head is saying “Well what about black on black crime” and “What about that one story” and “What about someone was stealing in that neighborhood” and “He shouldn’t have done this and he shouldn’t have done that” and “They didn’t know, they were protecting themselves,” then put my kids in that story. Put my man, put his boys. And if you can still rationalize then you might want to take a deep look into your soul. Because this.is.not.ok. And I will be the white momma who may get labeled crazy, who may lose some friends, who may be labeled un”American” but I cannot sit still anymore.
I have talked about being called by God to raise these boys. And that is what gets me through the tough days with them. But maybe God has called me to something bigger. This scares me. A lot. And maybe racial justice is a pipe dream in this country, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and make excuses for why unjust things happen to our black and brown friends and family. I don’t know what this looks like. Because it is truly a change of heart for people. I have been working on some side businesses and there is a push to “solve your reader’s problem”. I have been stuck on this thought and I feel like I can’t help someone if they don’t think they have a problem. If they aren’t willing to look at things from a different angle. If they have a list of ready-made excuses and talking points for why killing people of color is always ok.
I am ashamed that it has taken me this long. To my friends of color I know that you are exhausted from this fight. I am sorry I have not joined the front lines publicly. I remind myself of the story in Exodus 17 when Moses was exhausted from battle:
“When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down.”
I will be your Aaron and Hur. I will make mistakes. I will offend people of all races. I will need to engage my friends of color to call me out when I screw it up. I will screw it up. But fear of doing it wrong can no longer be my excuse. It is too important. It is too personal. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer ok for me even if I am late to the party. I just can’t.