We’re living in a very volatile and emotionally charged version of America right now. I know that I created this blog to write about life with chronic illness. I’ve included my (new) journey through an inoperable and incurable brain tumor. I write about life with chronic pain and juggling 3 kids, assorted fur babies, and life in (and now after) the military community.
But I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes this morning after watching this video again. I saw it less than a month after the death of Eric Garner, and with the grand jury returning their opinion this week, it has been floating around social media again. A lot of bloggers, social media outlets, and talk show hosts have been talking about this case in particular, and the many more deaths we’ve all seen across our news feeds throughout the year. They point out that all off the questions we had about Michael Brown do not exist in this case. They point out that the officer used a *banned* choke hold on Eric Garner. They point out that the coroner ruled his death a homicide.
Blogs, memes, and hashtags like #CrimingWhileWhite and #LivingWhileBlack have sprung up. Videos have been posted from all walks of people, some calling for action, some calling out “thugs”, and some telling the rest of the world to shut the hell up. I’ve been watching it all, comparing reports and opinions before stepping up to say anything. The *first* thing I learned in college was critical thinking. For every statistic there is another “study” disputing it. Don’t take anything at face value. Learn to recognize rhetoric and never forget that there are always three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
Another thing that I learned in college was that we are not living in the post racial society I thought we were. In my Racial Relations class my professor told the class that a black man with the same education, experience, and qualifications makes $0.75 for every dollar a white man makes. I was incensed. What?! Seriously, civil rights was 50 years ago. I went looking for sources to tell her she was wrong. I spent spare time combing through peer reviewed papers, articles, studies. I hit the university library. I dug through research material. I couldn’t find anything to dispute her. I was wrong. It was 2009 and I learned that we have not gotten as far as I thought we had.
I know racism is alive and well. I grew up in parts of town that had the nice ladies hanging out on the corner near the bus station. I know there were parts of town you didn’t go to if you were white. I know what it feels like to be judged for the color of your skin. I’ve watched my mom get called names and screamed at because she was a white girl with a darker skinned man. My dad was Hawaiian and depending on what part of the world he was in depended on how he got treated. In Egypt, they thought he was Egyptian. In Southern California, they thought he was Mexican. And when he came to see me when I lived in Michigan, some lady that followed us around the grocery store didn’t know what he was. I saw the looks when he carried my blond haired/blue eyed children.
My point is that this is a very emotional and complicated issue. I see people waaaay over on one side saying this is BS and “what about the mistreatment of Japanese/Irish/Native Americans/all these other groups of ethnicitys?!” and I see people waaaay over on the other side saying “Black lives matter. This is modern day lynchings. Ain’t nothin’ changed!”. And I’m watching peaceful protests and riots and a lot of hurt and anger. I’m thinking of my own experiences and what I have learned.
In my family, we don’t teach any kind of prejudice. But I know I have seen it and felt it and I know my kids have. This is not the world I want my kids to inherit. I don’t know how to find our way out of where we are right now, but I do know that we all have to lay down our swords and our anger.