It’s happening again.
Well, in truth, it never stopped.
It didn’t stop after Travon Martin was killed. His crime was wanting skittles and a soda.
It didn’t stop after Jordan Davis was gunned down because his killer deemed Davis’s music to be too loud.
It didn’t stop when Tamir Rice, a 12-year old child playing with a BB gun, was shot and killed.
It didn’t stop after Philando Castile was killed when stopped for a broken taillight while his girlfriend and her young child could only watch.
It didn’t stop when Botham Jean, sitting in his home, was shot and killed by a female police officer when she said she mistakenly walked into his apartment thinking it was hers.
It didn’t stop when Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and killed while he was jogging.
It didn’t stop when George Floyd said multiple times that he couldn’t breath – dying on the ground with a knee in his neck.
It is a pain too deep to be born – and yet we bear it.
A fear too close to the heart to ignore.
My husband has asked our grown sons, and me, to put our car’s registration in the sunglass holder. Our hope – our prayer—is that if we should be stopped, reaching up into a smaller compartment which can be easily seen through the windshield will be less threatening than putting a hand in the glove box. We hope this small act will give our sons, and ourselves, the added chance to live.
Indeed, even in this time of the virus, we are careful. As a family, we regularly meet on-line and share the details, large and small, that bind us together. At the end of each call, I say the same warning, “Remember black men should not wear black masks.” We laugh, knowing it is not a joke. We understand it is not just the virus that can kill suddenly, without warning or reason.
And, yet, when we go to work, we’re expected to leave our ugliest truths outside the office door.
At work, we talk of inclusion. We encourage the bringing of our experiences to the forefront. But the inclusion of our fear for our sons and daughters is uncomfortable and unwelcome. The inclusion of history has little bearing, we’re told, on the business at hand. Our silence is expected. Our deaths and the true depth of our pain is to be politely ignored.
And, to be honest, it is the hardest truths for all groups who are non-standard – whose deepest pains are often viewed as matters of bad taste.
In reality, genuine inclusion is not always a joyful merging of cultures and ideas. Sometimes it’s also a bearing of witness of pain. It’s an acknowledgement of experiences we’d rather not see. Inclusion, real inclusion, is a merging of new ideas and perspectives. It’s seeing and acknowledging all of the realities of others’ experiences not just the little discomforts. And it is the beginning of change. This change, though, cannot, should not be ours alone. WE must decide that inclusion, humanity, is not just a slogan but a right. And, WE must be willing to make that change become reality.