Thursday, July 7, 2016

enough.

I have two beautiful boys. And every day I’m realizing more and more that they will both be judged for their skin – one with more compassion, for the most part. One with more disdain.



When Gideon is with us, he will be okay. Not because of who he is, but because of who we are. He will not be like “those others” because his parents are white. While this will certainly present him with some problems – maybe he will be teased, maybe he will not be considered “black” enough, maybe it will make him somewhat of an outcast with peers of similar skin tone, it WILL likely ensure his safety. When he is with us and we get pulled over for a busted tail light or an expired registration, he will likely not be shot four times and killed for reaching for his wallet.



But I fear for him when he is on his own. We will most definitely have to have conversations with him that don’t make any rational sense. Matt was just saying this week that we will have to make sure he knows not to EVER cut through someone’s yard, even if it is the quickest route. He should not wear a hood when out in public. He should never knock on someone’s door unannounced. Jonah could do these things, but Gideon cannot. Now we will add to these warnings. Don’t ever carry a gun, even if you are carrying it legally and with the proper license. Don’t ever get angry out in public. Go completely and ridiculously above and beyond with respectful and placating words when talking to police officers, even if they have pulled you over for no reason. Even if they are accusing you of something that is totally ludicrous. Even if they are being rough with you, grab you, shove you, push you, curse you. Do not speak up for yourself. Do not show any disrespect. Keep your black mouth shut.

Your life may depend on it.


Are you pissed off yet? Are you pissed at me or are you pissed at the reality of this country where we live? Are you in complete denial? Do you know that one aspect of white privilege is that we have the luxury to pretend that there isn’t a problem? We can close our eyes to oppression and abuse, because we are not directly affected. We can view ourselves as the “we” and view “them” as the “others” and live in our ivory towers of complacency and apathy.  Our black friends do not have that luxury. They live every day in this REALITY, with these FACTS, and I get to say that because your reality does not affect me, it does not exist. I am white, and you are a liar.

To make matters worse, we start spouting phrases like “All lives matter” to try to make ourselves feel better, like the oppressed are at fault. I was reading a Relevant article today, and it said that this is similar to running a race for cancer, all the while screaming, “THERE ARE OTHER DISEASES TOO!” Of course all lives matter. Because they are precious and God given and beautiful. But ALL lives are not being senselessly and repeatedly taken. ALL lives are not being oppressed and threatened on a daily basis. ALL lives are not having to live in fear when they are wrongly accused by the privileged or pulled over by the cops. Yes, all lives matter. But that does not stop us from standing up and saying that Black lives matter. Because right now, it is our Black brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, are living in fear, and who need our voices. Not because we are white. But because we are human. I am them and they are me, and I stand up and shout out and demand what is right and good for my fellow human beings.

You can be quiet and pretend these things don’t exist if you choose. It is not right and it is not okay, but it is your choice. I will not. I will no longer be silent. Matt said, “The laws may be the same for everyone, but the rules are completely different.” THAT is the truth. THAT is the reality.

And when a black man brings it up, someone who has an audience and a platform and a voice, we, the privileged, start a petition to get him kicked off the TV. Because the last thing we want is to feel uncomfortable or to be accused of the truth.  Can you please stop messing up my entertainment with your realness? It’s awfully inconvenient. I just want to watch my stories.

Meanwhile we share on Facebook, over and over, a white teen being tazed to the point of a coma and permanent brain damage, because he looks like me and what if that was my son and oh, the humanity! But the guy who got shot four times reaching for his wallet? Or the guy that was shot to death while cuffed on the ground? They are not my people. I cannot relate to that. Also, I’m sure they had it coming. I don’t need to stand up and make a big deal about that because ALL lives matter. Haven’t you heard?

No. Stop it.

When does the us stop being the us and the them stop being the them? When do we stop viewing our family in compartments of “otherness” and decide to fight for our brothers and sisters, because they are just that. When do we scream no to apathy and denial and start standing up for something? Something more than fighting the persecution of Christian Chicken or that the lines are too long at the DMV and start standing up for something that really matters?

Someone. When do we start standing up for our someones who really matter?



Enough is enough. And I’m truly and sincerely sorry that it’s taken me this long to say it. I should have never chosen silence. It was wrong, and I am sorry.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are right on point! My grandchildren (ages 10, 11, and 12) who live with me and their mom in a small MN town are black and there is not one day that goes by that I don't worry and pray for their safety. I feel the same anger you are feeling and it is like you have put my feelings into words. Thank you!

carrie chapple said...

I love you Patrice. Thank you for speaking truth.

Style Police said...

Agree 100%

Black man is murdered by police & the media dig up his past

White man rapes woman and the media print his SWIMMING TIMES?!

WTF.

Pete, Ali, Charlie and Rosie said...

Beautifully worded Patrice. Totally agree. x

Chris Brooks said...

Being in my mid-30's, and the product of an interracial marriage (my mom is white & my dad is black), I have a passion for racial relations. I was raised colorblind in the sense that, when I looked at people, color was not the first thing I saw. The truth though, I would later learn, is that I was never quite white enough for my white friends. The same was the case for my black friends, but they were far more accepting because, after all, in this country you're either white or you're not. My wife is white, and our kids are, I guess you can say, 75% white, so honestly there's a bit of joy within me in knowing they won't necessarily have to deal with same types of the things I've had to deal with.
Every word in this article was brilliantly articulated. I sincerely appreciate your perspective and truly respect your willingness to, as a "white" individual, bring this historical truth to the forefront of contemporary conversation. God bless you.

Mommy Attorney said...

Yes. Enough. Dear God, enough. Enough black blood senselessly shed in this country. Please, let it be enough.

LeeAnn said...

Thank you, Patrice.

Lauren said...

Thank you for writing this!

Shannon Olgin said...

I totally agree!

Pogue Mahone said...

It's so glaringly obvious the racial bias cops have towards black people and how they racially profile them and kill them at alarming rates. It's appalling.....and then they wonder WHY the public doesn't trust them? There is a race war going on in America and even here in Canada,too and it's shameful.

Tashia Uken said...

You have an amazing gift with your words Patrice! Very well the truth and exactly what others need to hear. I fear the same for my sweet Isaiah that is in the situation as Gideon.

Lisa said...

A-freaking-men. I have 4 black nephews (2 of whom live in Minneapolis) and I fear for their safety every day. They're good men, family men, but even that's not enough to keep them safe. And there's nothing I can do to keep them safe, and I feel so helpless.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes!! This should be shared and shared and shared.

Cynthia said...

Truth. Thank you for your honest words. As a pastor in a white suburb, I invite people to see the world through the eyes of our African-American brothers and sisters. Denial of racism and racial injustice is strong.

Anonymous said...

I'll be very interested in how you handle the talk with Jonah about how a High School B+ GPA will earn Gideon an Ivy League scholarship, while leaving him $50,000 in debt from a state school.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing and so beautifully articulated.

Anonymous said...

...and what about the fact that 3 in 4 black young men have a criminal record?
Maybe if they would be raised in intact families, by both, a mother and a father like your Gideon is, the situation would be different........

Anonymous said...

You have bought into the lie that our media is selling. So sad that we continue to buy into the propaganda they spew. Take a minute and search local news stories, this is occurring with white and black people. These so called "good" men getting killed are resisting and fighting the police officers. Why are they taught that this is ok? These so called "good" men are criminals with extensive records. Not fine examples of law abiding individuals. All lives matter because that is what the Bibke says. That is not a phrase we throw out to make ourselves feel better. Where was your post in defense of the unborn who are murdered everyday? When do those lives matter? I agree with previous poster, I am done reading here. It amazes me that everyone feels the need to speak out and let the rest of us know how they feel. Why not just pray? Pray for our country, pray for all the lost lives, pray for our own interactions with people. Prayer is the most powerful voice we have.

Anonymous said...

I think I understand the heart behind this post as I too hate the loss of any life prematurely - regardless of color. Unfortunately I think the way this was written doesn't encourage healing or a positive solution. I would recommend this post as a more comprehensive look at the struggle we are facing.

http://www.linnysaunders.com/2016/07/mn-la-and-dallas-the-sin-of-it-all.html

I hope this gives more direction to all who read instead of inciting hurt emotions.

Elizabeth said...

This is perfect. Thank you!!

Momma, PhD said...

Powerful words. Thank you for speaking out.

And for the anonymous commenters, you hide behind anonymity for a reason. You wear it like a hood.

All that was said about civil rights activists in the 50s and 60s is being said about Black Lives Matter activists today.

Do not be on the wrong side of history. Do not be on the wrong side of hate.

Debby said...

Thank you for your honesty. I am so sad to read some of the comments here but ignorance is so easy for them to hide behind. I agree with every word that you said. It is people like you who remind me that there is more good than bad in this world and we need to always look for the good. I can only hope and pray that by the time your son has to face the world on his own we will have evolved and he will be judged solely by the content of his character.

Molly said...

Yessssss. All of this. And the cop who tasered the young man into a coma actually got jail time. Not enough jail time (four years) but it's a start. That boy didn't have to defend his humanity from a hospital bed or post-mortem. Sad that other people are discounting you for your truth, but they're ignorant. I would recommend they read The New Jim Crow and some of the research studies that show the real discrimination people of color are facing... and explain why POC are in this position (hint: look at our history and the ways in which we've subjugated and oppressed poc and continue to do so). My humble suggestion is that you have these conversations with G sooner than you think you need to, because studies show that people view black kids of color as older and less innocent than white peers. My friend said her boys started getting followed in stores around age 10. I am so so so thankful you are aware of these issues and that you can address them. Some white parents aren't, and the kids are never better off for that. If you aren't already a part of Showing Up For Racial Justice, I would see if there's a chapter near you! It's for white folks to stop violence towards POC and it's done with accountability to local organizations run by POC, so it seems good so far. The reason we have racism is because this country was built on a system of violent white supremacy. Not because of blog posts like this. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!

Caleb Smith said...
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Alis said...

Patrice, I commend you for your post and I wish J and G all the best. You are so very, very right. As a white woman, I am leery of the police, but not because I am afraid they will kill me, which is all the difference in the world. Black men possess that fear, and rightly so. I should add that recognizing racial bias and different outcomes based on race does NOT mean that all law enforcement officers are bad people, or that we should fear all cops: the two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

To Anonymous, who wrote "and what about the fact that 3 in 4 black young men have a criminal record? Maybe if they would be raised in intact families, by both, a mother and a father like your Gideon is, the situation would be different."

Anonymous, if you are going to cite what you proclaim to be "facts," you should cite your source. I could not find this particular "fact" anywhere, and I suspect that is because it is not fact at all. What is a fact is that almost 50% of black males and nearly 40 percent of white males are arrested by the age 23. Source: a 2012 Department of Justice survey, as summarized by The Brennan Center. https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/just-facts-many-americans-have-criminal-records-college-diplomas
That's not as huge a disparity as I would have thought, but what is huge is that black men typically receive sentences that are 10% longer than white men who commit the same crimes. (see id.)

We have a problem in this country. Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away, it makes them fester. Remember that we're barely sixty years removed from a time period when lynching black people for voting or for looking at a white woman or for simply being in the presence of the wrong person at the wrong time was commonplace.

Thank you Patrice.


Kathryn said...

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for speaking out so strongly on this topic. I just love what you said, about as much as I hate the necessity of you saying it.

xxxx

joy0706 said...

I have followed you for years, but need to respond to this. I have lived in a family with police officers for over 50 years - most recent my nephew is a state trooper. I can say that there is good and bad in all races and occupations, but we all know that. Do you know how many police officers are injured or killed daily for just doing their job? The publicity of a few incidents has caused ALL officers to be at risk for just wearing their uniforms. If anyone thinks this is helping their cause against police brutality, they are so wrong. I praise God every day that my nephew is now undercover and does not wear a uniform or drive a marked car. He is one of the many good guys "in blue", but can tell you stories about the disrespect and hate they get daily from people they are only trying to help.

Diane K said...

Well said.

Shari Funkhouser said...
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