Given that I have worked at two colleges in the past decade, I am facebook friends with a lot of current and former students–many of them are African-American.
Yesterday, compared to times when there was media coverage of shootings involving white cops and black men, I saw more collective and individual anger than I have ever seen before. From Trayvon to Ferguson to Tamir to today…for many in the black community, especially for Gen Yers and Zers, it seems to me that we are reaching a boiling point. I see the bubbles at the bottom of the pan.
I was also curious about how this was playing out on social media–so I looked at who had “liked” their posts expressing that anger. I saw that they were 99% African-American.
I felt united in their anguish when I woke up to the second shooting yesterday morning. Another father gone. I cried on the way to work. I didn’t post about it though. I didn’t know what to say. I felt wierd about liking posts…what would it look like for me to “like” something like that? Did I agree with it enough to “like” it? But by the end of the day I had “liked” one of the posts from a former SMC student expressing her thoughts about the day. I wanted to at least do something to show my solidarity. (It wasn’t much, was it?)
This morning, my husband, told me about Dallas and my heart sank. More fathers gone. I cried on my way to work. I got to thinking, and I made a hypothesis: “I will pull up my facebook this morning, and unlike yesterday, which had a plethora of my African-American friends liking and posting, I will see my white friends posting their sadness and outrage over Dallas. Some will include comments that include the black shooting victims from the last 48 hours, and the more angry ones won’t.”
I was right. That is exactly what I saw. Where there was silence from the vast majority of whites yesterday (YES, there were exceptions), today there was outrage and sadness. I see white people posting MLK quotes about non-violence. I see white people saying all lives matter; blue lives matter.
What is my point? My point is…if you are white, why does it take someone who LOOKS like us to die before we feel empathetic enough to even do the small action of “liking” a post, or writing one? I’m not pointing my finger, I’m asking myself too, even as the wife of a black man and the mother of biracial children. (As in, why am I posting to this blog yesterday, not today?) Our impulses to click OR NOT CLICK that “like” button or send that tweet on social media are tiny little instants…but they represent the core of who we are, what we believe, and what we find important. As one of my former students pointed out yesterday…your silence is louder than your words.
It’s so freaking uncomfortable to deal with the reality of our own stereotypes. It’s even more uncomfortable to actually try and do something about it. I’m just trying to be as honest and transparent as I can, because I really, badly want the world to be better.
Thank you to the two law enforcement members I know best: my cousin and our campus police chief, and thank you to all law enforcement who help keep us safe. I am sorry for your fallen, your murdered. You need justice.
To my black students and friends…I love you and I stand with you in your fear and anger. I’m not gonna say I understand it, because my skin doesn’t really allow me to, but I see it and I hear it. I am sorry for your fallen, your murdered. You need justice, and you have less assurance of receiving it than any other group of people in this country, and have for hundreds of years.
What about you? What will you do to combat the things that lurk in your own heart today? Pointing your finger at the at the Other, outside, is easy. Looking at ourselves is not.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
**Next time I’ll write about a time where I let my fear for myself lead me to give a former student who was trying to address injustice some advice that I will regret for a long time.