Divided We Fall
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
As I was walking from my office to the subway yesterday, I saw a black man asking a white police officer for directions. In my mind, I thought that if the black man was scared, he had every right to be.
Then this morning, my subway hit a turn roughly, and I felt a little hand grab mine. I looked down to see a little black boy (who I later found out was three years old) smiling up at me – completely fearless.
Immediately, my heart ached for both of them, for the fear and hate and ugliness that man likely encounters on a regular basis and for the uncertainty ahead for that little boy.
I generally don’t write about such serious things on here; mommy blogs are supposed to keep it light and fun. But there is only so much we can witness before not saying something just becomes wrong. And this week, I reached my limit.
“It was not enough to come and listen to a great sermon or message every Sunday morning and be confined to those four walls and those four corners. You had to get out and do something.” – John Lewis
While the recent incidents of brutality against black people are unfortunately not the first of their kind, technology has allowed us to witness things in real time, to be more objective and less rationalizing than we’ve been able to be in the past – and it ain’t pretty.
Seeing and hearing much of the events before and after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, it’s just insane to me that there are still people who question the existence of racism and justify everything that has happened.
“There is a sense in which we are all each other’s consequences.” – Wallace Stegner
But now, the hard part: what CAN we do? So often we (I) turn a blind eye to many of the world’s injustices because we (I) feel powerless. We fool ourselves into thinking that what we do and what we say on this hyper-micro level have no impact. We’re wrong.
Sure, we can’t pass laws or prosecute the offending parties, but we can learn and we can teach – learn about the mistakes of those before us and around us, and teach our children and those around us to do and be better.
As that little boy on the subway this morning taught me, love and fearlessness come naturally; it’s the bad stuff that we pick up along the way. I want my son to understand and appreciate the different people we are fortunate enough to encounter every day in this city. I want him to be kind and generous and compassionate.
Isn’t that what we all want? We say it is, but if recent events show us anything, it’s that somewhere along the way, we failed – we failed the men that died needlessly and we failed the men who killed them.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
That quote has unfortunately become something of a cliche, but it has never been truer than it is now. And since I’m all about action steps, here are a few places to start:
We are lucky to say that as a country we have come a long way, but don’t be fooled into thinking that our work is done. Let’s do everything we can to end this cycle and stand united against hate and injustice.