Blog: Why I Wept Last Night
(originally written 7/8/16)
What I did last night was totally out of character.
I'm pretty good at keeping my composure in times of crisis or potential crisis. (Times of frustration?...not quite.) It's something I pride myself on, and I believe it would serve me well should I ever face a true crisis—while Bystander A is flailing about in terror and Bystander B has passed out, I'd be able to focus and lead everyone through whatever tough situation we're in.
Unfortunately, the way things are going, I may have to apply those skillz sooner rather than later.
Lastnight, at Go-Go Laundry on San Carlos Avenue in San Jose, I caught a glimpse of the news out of Dallas on the ticker—three officers (at the time) dead, many others wounded by a gunman during what had been peaceful protests of the recent shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana.
Before I even realized it, I'd let out a loud, emotional "OH MY GOD!" startling the other patrons into silence.
And here's why:
We're slaughtering each other.
We've become the Middle East.
And for what?
To me, at least, this isn't just about black people or white people. This isn't just about cops or suspects. This is about people period dying like animals. And there likely is much, much more blood to be shed.
I knew this would happen.
I knew once not one, but two black men died by the hand of the police within a week, justifiably or not, there was going to be retaliation.
That there would be fellow blacks too angry and too fed up for self-control. Who aren't going to be interested in letting investigations play out. Who aren't going to be interested in what the long-term damage that street justice can and likely will cause.
They will believe in an eye for an eye, and we're all going to pay the eventual price.
Dallas, Texas was the first instance. Two other states have seen police ambushes today alone. In this (PLEASE pardon the term) monkey-see, monkey-do society we live in, others will copycat. Before we know it, police are going to be under fire in every damn state.
It's not going to matter if Mr. Castile or Mr. Sterling did or didn't do anything to warrant being shot—though those videos DO look pretty damning, I'm always one to take a step back and be objective in situations like this until ALL the facts come out, because all too often, what we're told/shown at first doesn't always prove to be the whole story. But I'm in the minority there. (No pun intended.)
And if police are indeed under fire in every state, what will happen? They will understandably be on edge, and even quicker to pull a trigger than before, especially for people fitting the description of those out to get them. THAT will lead to even more black men dying, continuing the grim cycle. And when the hell will it stop? Next month? Next year? 2020?
Maybe, as a black man who's never been mistreated by the cops, never had anything close to a negative racial experience (even over several recent days in Boise, Idaho—a 90% white city—I was treated like family by literally everyone), and never been exactly embraced by other blacks, I'm the wrong person to offer commentary on a topic centered around race relations...but I'm going to do it anyway:
We're headed toward full-blown anarchy, and I'm honestly afraid.
I'm afraid that every single day this summer, a new attack will take place. On either the cops or on black men who show even the slightest bit of resistance or pose even the most miniscule of threats.
I'm afraid that at the wrong place at the wrong time, someone I care about will be seen making a sudden movement in a jittery cop's vicinity, or make a loud noise, and get Swissed because of it.
I'm afraid this will grow into an all-out race war that'll dwarf Watts and Rodney King in scale combined. I'm afraid of the tally of children, white and black, who will lose fathers (and possibly mothers) before the war is over.
And as a black man with many, many white (or white-appearing) friends...I'm afraid where this leaves me.
If I dare be seen on another road trip with my friends Luke and Paul...will some anarchist take me out for being a traitor? What if I go to the movies with my friend Danelle and have the audacity to kiss her goodbye afterward? What if I'm seen rolling around in the grass with Josie's friends Natalie and Noah...and enjoying it? What if my mother and her BFF of 30+ years Diane decide to...gasp...have a meal in public together?
What if I pass a mob pulling a Reginald Denny somewhere and refuse to join in?
All the fear, worry, grief and anger over where we seem to be headed culminated in me collapsing on my bed in tears once I got home. All the recent senseless violence in our country just caught up with me—now more than ever, we ALL have to watch our backs because somebody won't like that we're black, or white, or Asian, or gay, or a 49ers fan, or well-off, or just plain American.
I thought I'd become desensitized to all of it. But after last night, I guess you don't become truly desensitized to it. Your emotion just sort of suspends itself, until one day the cup runs over, like in my case.
So that's why I wept. Because I have to do my best to protect my innocent, gold-hearted six-year-old child who sees good in everyone from the true horror of the world she inhabits. Because for the first time, I do not feel safe anywhere. Not anymore—behind ANY door, around ANY corner, inside ANY structure could be a madman with a gun and a major axe to grind with me (or the human race in general) for committing the awful sin of existing.
Because for the first time in my life, after years and years of national pride...I wish I didn't live in America.