This post was originally written for our Facebook family and friends during the height of the original Ferguson protests, but after their incredibly touching response and in light of everything that is happening now, I’ve decided to share it again here with all of you. ...We are in this together.
The world is not overreacting. It’s about time they react!
As a white woman married to a black man for more than 19 years, I have a unique perspective. My life with Reuben is very different than it was before I married him. My son’s childhood is very different than mine was. I know that most White people are not intentionally oblivious to the reality of being a person of color in this country - I was once oblivious myself. But, when events like Ferguson take place in this country, and people - of all colors - across the country and across the world are standing up, it should make you want to open your eyes a little wider.
The world is not overreacting. It’s about time they react!
You don’t have to like what’s happening - we don’t like it either. But, not liking it doesn’t mean you understand it. And not understanding it, doesn’t make it evil.
What bothers me most about the reaction of so many (not all) White people (and some Black people too), is the lack of empathy. How can so many people not see the GUT-WRENCHING pain that people of color are experiencing right now? How can any person separate themselves so much that they can’t find any common ground, that they can’t relate as people, as mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, etc?
From personal experience I can tell you that I have had a front row seat when it comes to the injustices of Black America…
From the day my pregnant belly started to show I was looked down on – judged for being another rebellious White-trash unwed teenager knocked up by a Black man (even though I was 19 and married – and God forbid I CHOSE to be with a Black man). ...To the day we showed up at the hospital to give birth, apparently looking too cute to be in labor, and thus deserved every rude comment the nurses slung at us (as if people sit around all day just waiting to go into labor – and even if I was trying to look cute when giving birth, what the hell is that anyone’s business???). ...To watching my husband being escorted by my hospital room by police simply for sleeping in the waiting room - and apparently making people “uncomfortable” - while we waited for a private room to open back up.
To worrying about every bump, scrape and bruise visible on my child’s body - especially when going for routine checkups, for fear ANYONE would assume abuse.
To being followed around stores by employees simply for walking in the door with a Black man. ...To being followed around by a racist group of White teenagers thinking we an interracial couple would make a great example for their cause.
To dealing with racist neighbors calling the police claiming domestic violence time and time again (despite the fact that we weren’t even fighting at the time, or have ever been violent with each other) simply because they didn’t want us living in their building.
To the fact that my husband is scared (that’s an understatement by the way) to drive into an all White neighborhood for fear of the police being called, because yes, it happens.
I swear on that day, I prayed more than I ever did before, that Reuben would keep his cool, and no one would get shot.
To dealing with being pulled over by the police too many times to count for absolutely no other reason than my Black husband being in the car. ...To being pulled over by police with my teenage son in the car only to have the cop ready with his hand on his gun the entire time, yell at us for asking questions, yell at my son for ID and sternly inquire of who Reuben and I were to him. Only to drive away not really knowing why (but knowing why) we were even pulled over in the first place, but having a ticket in hand for three violations that were all bogus (including one for not wearing our seat belts, even though ALL of us were clearly wearing them). ...I swear on that day, I prayed more than I ever did before, that Reuben would keep his cool, and no one would get shot.
We’ve experienced so much that I don’t even want to post here for fear that the majority of you will not understand, or empathize with us, but rather point fingers and find reasons why we were in the wrong, because that’s what people most often do.
These things happen every single day to people of color, as well as to mixed and blended families. They are tired for a reason. I’m tired. I’m tired of knowing my child’s life will never be as carefree as it would have been if he were born White. Tired of despite being a good man in every possible way, watching my husband live in fear of making a wrong move. Tired of being afraid to go visit my parents who live just hours from us because of the roads it takes to get there.
If I’m being honest, I sometimes wish I could go back to living oblivious. To not knowing this reality exists, because it was a relatively peaceful place.
And if I’m being honest, I sometimes wish I could go back to living oblivious. To not knowing this reality exists, because it was a relatively peaceful place. But, more often than not, I am grateful that my eyes have been opened. That I can see the pain in others that so many brush aside, and that because of that, I can now be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. But, in order for me to do that I can no longer sit silently on the sidelines.
Please know that this post is in no way intended to divide, but rather to unite. If we aren’t given both sides of a story, how can we know anything different?
I love you all, and look forward to the many open and honest conversations that are sure to come! A difference of opinion is fine, but let’s please respect each other enough to watch how we say things to the people we call family and friends.
Thanks for reading,