A call for change for all, but especially white Americans, with regards to racism.
|My fellow white Americans
We have a serious problem with racism in this country. It is not somebody else's problem (though indirectly it obviously is). It is our problem. We should own it. We should demand it be fixed, demand it of ourselves and our system. I live outside a city where a 12 year old kid was murdered for playing with a toy gun (Tamir Rice, in case you just can't follow all these cases) by police who closed in and shot him down within seconds. This is wrong.
We need to stop saying, and stop listening to, the lie that the system is working or that the police are faced with a difficult task and doing their best. The fact is, if the person to be stopped or apprehended is black, he or she is far more likely to be hurt or killed. I live in a community where 30% of the residents are black. These are my neighbors, my friends... and I still sometimes get nervous when a young black man walks down the sidewalk toward me, even though he may be dressed and act just as my own two sons dress and act. The difference is, if I think the young black man is acting suspicious and call the police, he may wind up dead or badly injured. The police used to stop my son walking home from his girlfriend's at 2 or 3am. He had long hair and dressed in ragged clothes (teenagers!), but while they stopped and talked to him, they were always civil, even respectful.
I don't have confidence that they would have been if he were black. That is wrong, and it isn't somebody else's problem. If they overreacted (say, because they saw him "reach for his pants as if he had a gun" rather than reaching for his pants because his is too skinny and they tend to fall down), and they killed that young black man who is somebody else's son, they almost certainly wouldn't be indicted or held accountable.
I am a volunteer tutor of 6th graders at the school across the street. These kids are sweet, fun young kids, and most of them are black and 12 years old, which is why I focus on the Tamir Rice case in particular. It makes me heartsick to think this could happen to one of "my" kids. If young black men are scary to us, it is because we live in a society that portrays young black men as scary. Not occasionally, but all the time. That is our problem. We need to change that, not simply by being less scared, but by demanding that our police, our media, and most particularly our politicians, change their ways and language and excuses. These are our neighbors, even if they live on a different (often poorer) block than we do. These are our sons, even if their skin color is different. We cannot hide behind a system of justice that does not give them justice. We need to change. Please. For our neighbors, our loved ones, our sons and daughters.