11/25/2014

Keep Dreaming, Daughter. The [ugly] truth of our world is painful


It's midnight.

I can't sleep.

So I've got my laptop plopped up on my lap in bed.

I'm sad.

I'm angry.

And I feel like few people understand why my thoughts and anxieties are nearly suffocating me.

Michael Brown, an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot and killed by a police officer in broad daylight.

While the officer-involved shooting may be justified, how our country has responded to this tragedy is not okay.

And my heart is hurting.

Listen.

My husband spent 7+ years risking his life every single day as a police officer in a dangerous city plagued with guns, gang violence and daily homicides.

He even wrote me a letter and tucked it inside a safe in our closet in case he didn't come home at night.

I love and respect the men and women who have committed their lives to enforce laws and public safety.

We have many friends and family members who have chosen this vocation, and I know they do their very best.

But, you guys.

This system that these men and women are a part of is flawed.

This system was never designed to protect the oppressed.

This system was never designed to protect people who are different than the majority of people who work for it.

Whether you acknowledge the racial and ethnic disparities in our country is your choice.

But if you choose to ignore that black people -- who make up 13 percent of our country's population -- AND constitute for 28 percent of all arrests, 40 percent of the population behind bars and 43 percent of the people on death row (National Council on Crime and Delinquency) -- shame on you for turning your cheek.

No matter our personal beliefs about Ferguson, we should grieve the tragedy of systematic racism running rampant in our country right now.

To be completely honest, as I reflect on the riots and ignorant comments of people who think the events in Ferguson have nothing to do with race and everything to do with a lack of good parenting or addiction to drugs or a "thugs-breeding-thugs" lifestyle...I worry.

I worry about my raising my beautiful black daughter in a country where so many refuse to recognize the deck of cards stacked against her because of her skin color.

The worry itself is a heavy, heavy weight for me to carry.

Yet I write this knowing full-well it's nothing compared to living it.

And tonight as my daughter lay sleeping soundly in her crib next door, I want her to keep dreaming.

I want her to keep dreaming of whatever it is she grins about in her sleep.

Because when she wakes up, she'll eventually recognize the [sometimes] ugly reality of inequality that we live in.

Look.

There are some amazing things about this country -- the land of the free.

But in moments like these, I wonder if I'll be enough for my daughter.

I worry if my love for her will be enough to outweigh the criminalized lens so many people will view her through.

It's a reality a lot of my friends and family members don't have to think about.

But it's a harsh one we all should try to understand.

Please, friends...

Talk to your children about race.

Teach them about inequality.

Be intentional with exposing your children to a diverse group of people who are successful and good role models.

Help our children see that good people come in all races, all ethnicities and all walks of life.

As parents and mentors and aunts and uncles and grandparents and neighbors and members of the clergy and waitresses and emergency personnel -- and whoever you are -- WE have the power to DO something about this.

Our children are learning from Ferguson.

They are listening to us talk about what is happening in Ferguson.

Our children are hearing the jokes and rants about Ferguson.

Please don't pretend racial inequality doesn't exist.

Don't pretend hopelessness and utter despair aren't realities for people right now.

Use Ferguson as a springboard for a bigger conversation.

Remind them that violence isn't the answer.

Explain to them that while destruction and vandalism and violence seem counterproductive, people are frustrated. And when people are frustrated because they feel no one listens and no one cares and no one understands -- they respond by getting attention the best way they know how.

Sure, some people's responses may be a bit misguided, but when you feel like you're powerless and voiceless -- when you feel like your life doesn't matter and you've reached a level of hopelessness and complete despair -- what are your options?

We are all influenced by our environment.

But it's imperative to recognize and understand that our "environment" in this country oppresses people and fails people every. single. day.

So please.

For the sake of my daughter...

For the sake of all children...

For the sake of our entire country...

Seek out the oppressed -- the homeless, the hungry, the black, the white, the Hispanic, the mentally ill, the orphans...

SPEAK UP FOR THEM.

STAND UP FOR THEM.

Many people in our country are hurting right now.

And when one person hurts, we all should.