Monday, November 17, 2014


If your life experience is such that you trust that you can reasonably expect the legal system to work on your behalf, and you have had mostly if not entirely pleasant experiences with police, and you have faith in the justice system to fairly grant you due process, and you expect that you will be treated with respect by most authority figures most of the time, and you think that generally speaking, America is a pretty friendly place to be, AND you can with some assurance assume most of the people you love have had similar life experiences, then I can understand why the events of the past couple of months are confusing if not downright mind-boggling.

For someone whose worldview is skewed by privilege- which is what this perspective is informed by whether we fully appreciate it or not- it doesn't make sense. And to be perfectly honest, I can probably say that all of the above is true of my own personal lived experience, and if I left it at that level of understanding, I might be just as confused as so many other people about what in the hell is this #‎FergusonOctober stuff about.

But I'm not, and here is why: I'm trying. I'm intentionally engaging in understanding and keeping updated on what is happening, and I'm reading articles and blog posts and status updates, and I'm talking with strangers in coffee shops, and I'm getting deep and uncomfortable with good friends, and I'm checking myself at every turn to make sure I'm at the very least paying attention so that I can speak in an informed way on this stuff, because that is a role that suits me.

I'm not saying you need to go out and rally. I just want you all to engage a little bit and challenge whatever preconceived notions you have. I get that many of us have police officers in our lives that we love, and that can make us feel torn on this matter. But it's entirely plausible that you can love and respect individual cops, and still recognize and acknowledge that the system- at every level- is skewed to the disadvantage of a large swath of the population, specifically young black men. That's what this is about.

I don't know what solution will feel right to you, but my solution personally is to intentionally look beyond my own lived experience to see what the people around me are experiencing. Getting out of my feelings of indignation or defensiveness and just bearing witness to what other people's lives have been like. Because injustice harms all of us in the long run. And because the daily lived experience of racism and oppression and injustice routinely wounds the spirits of people I deeply love. If someone you love is being harmed, and you don't say or do anything about it, you are complicit in the harm that befalls them. Personally, the worst thing someone could say about me is that I lacked the courage to speak up for what's right.

Anyone can feel free to message me, and I won't think your questions or concerns are silly; I'm telling you: I WANT to talk to people who don't get it for whatever reason, and try to help them connect the dots and begin to understand what all of this is about. Being white has a million advantages, most of which we are entirely unconscious of; one of them is the mobility to move amongst other white people and to say things with authority and without the risk of being delegitimized by accusations of "playing the race card".

I'd like to say I'm sorry for belaboring this stuff, but that would be disingenuous. I'm not even a little bit sorry. This is important, regardless of how you feel about the specific events. It matters that we keep talking about it. Black lives do matter, and that core belief is the heart and soul of the protests that are continuing to disrupt business as usual here in STL. Let me know if you want to talk about it.

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