I’ve been hesitant to write about recent events. I don’t think I have anything really original and doubt it would have much impact anyway. Silence, though, doesn’t feel right.
I’m lucky to have been born a straight white man. I don’t experience fear and hatred on a daily basis. When I see a police car in my rearview mirror, my biggest worry is getting a ticket. The thought that I might die during an interaction never crosses my mind.
I probably should note that I do often sense a certain nervous discomfort from some people, usually young women, gay men, transgender people, and those of Middle Eastern descent. This fear, however, does not compare to what they and other less-privileged people feel in our society. In fact, I understand why they feel the way they do since so much fear, hatred, and even violence is directed their way by people like me.
I must also point out that I have known a lot of police officers throughout my life. I spent two years of my life in combat zones, carrying a firearm, fully prepared to die or take a life to keep others safe. People who choose to take on that responsibility here in the homeland have my undying respect and gratitude.
That respect and gratitude, however, does not include a free pass from accountability. If a shooting is justified, the public needs a clear and thorough explanation of why. We need to be able to trust that justice is being served, and too many people understandably do not have that trust right now.
Racism doesn’t begin when someone puts on a badge, nor does it drive people toward police work. Racism exists within us all. It’s born from fear of the unknown and fed by our failure to listen to each other.
I didn’t want to write this because I don’t want to assuage my white guilt or try to justify any fears. I chose to write this because I want everyone to know I’m listening. Now let’s all listen to each other and stop this madness.