I now believe I spent a lifetime with a man, my father, running scared from police violence.
Since I first became conscious of racism (1st grade, St. Bernard's, first day of school) I have worried about what white men would do to my people, to me. It's a low-level anxiety, one that I can box up and hold at bay. But less so lately. Especially in regards to law enforcement. I drive the speed limit these days and drive slowly by any time I see that the Ohio Highway Patrol has pulled someone over. Just to make sure they aren't black, and if they are, to ascertain if they are safe.
And while I understand the choice, I find it unfortunate when Black and Brown people choose to wear the uniforms of the institutions that enforce systematic structural racism in this country. I'm very near 60 and I don't want to see any of the young people from this past summer's youth employment project or my younger relations or any random black girl or boy spend as many years worried, scared or afraid. I don't want to see another person killed by those who wear the uniform that supports structural inequity (even if you don't think that is what you are doing). So it's time to call a stop.
I'm not that different from the sometimes bitter middle-aged man who was my father. I, like him, am afraid of big demonstrations. I'm a stay-in-the-background kind of activist. I prefer the hard work of creating viable organizations and building individual and community capacity for social change to standing on a street corner with a megaphone. I hate to be arrested. But I agree with the brave, young, BOLD Black Lovers -- It's time to shut it down.
I'm going to Walmart first thing Friday morning to urge Black folk to stay away, for at least this one day. For John Crawford, who was shot in a Walmart for carrying a pellet gun that he picked up in that Walmart, and was being sold in that Walmart just outside Cincinnati. I'm going for Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy, playing with the modern equivalent of a dart gun, shot by Cleveland cops within seconds of their arrival at the playground where Tamir was hanging out. I'm going for the scores of others who weren't at their family's Thanksgiving table because of institutionalized, state-sanctioned murder. I hope you will join in wherever you are. It's time to disrupt the system that allows these events and so many other instances of structural racism to damage the lives of our relations, friends, family, community members.
Disrupt, before it's too late for another black boy or girl, man or woman.
Consider it an act of loving-kindness.
Before it's too late for all of us.