(Note: this isn’t really a post, it’s a collection of notes from my journal.)
My son turned 18 last week and, you know, when he walks down the street? Takes the bus to work? Gets pulled over by the police for any reason, goes to a bar with friends? (OMG, my baby can go to a bar with friends now, when did that happen—right, last week!)
I never worry that he’ll be shot by the police.
Or even treated unfairly by them.
I mean, I have a lot of other worries. Obviously. I’m a mother.
I never worry that my son will be shot by the police.
My Black American friends? They’re devoured by that fear every time one of their kids, loves, siblings walks the street.
I never truly understood this until this week.
I will never be able to really comprehend that fear—or how emotionally damaging it is. Simply imagining it causes me pin.
How did we build a world in which that is a thing?
More importantly: how do we change it?
I am still having a hard time getting out of bed. Doing anything. Moving.
But this week, I am attending, children in tow, Black Lives Matter protests, marches, a vigil.
I haven’t been inside a store or a coffee shop since they’ve re-opened. Not getting a hair cut this summer. Not holding any parties. Wearing a mask to the grocery store so that your Grandma doesn’t die, choking, because we’re out of ventilators.
Because everyone has the right to breathe.
As the Black Lives Matter / George Floyd protests were escalating in the US and beginning in Canada and around the world, I ran away for a day to Kananaskis Country, an expanse of wilderness, mountains, lakes and hiking trails about an hour’s drive from my city.
That’s privilege, by the way. White privilege: being able to run away. Step away from the conversation, conflict about race.
Black people, people of colour do not get to take a break from that reality.
That’s privilege. And so is this.
On the way to Paradise, my friend and I stopped at a gas station and my friend, who had been driving, discovered he had left his wallet at home.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “They give you 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence when they pull you over.”
“They give YOU 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence when they pull you over,” he said, handing me the keys. “I’m not a white girl, remember? Here. You drive.”
Later, I tell the story to Flora. As I get to the part when I say, “They give you 24 hours to produce a driver’s licence,” she interrupts me.
“Wow, what a white privilege thing to say.”
I’m proud of her.
And ashamed of our world. Because, people, how fucked up is that? We know the police will go out of their way to NOT give me a ticket. To not inconvenience me.
My friend? He’d better not step over any lines. Ever.
We need to change this.
It’s the moment before I open the laptop, reach for the phone. The day is still ok. I’ve done my morning pages, cuddled the Ender and the dogs. An drinking coffee. Am thinking, I might do things today. Today might be a beautiful day.
I reach for the laptop, I check my newsfeeds—I fuck it all up.
I don’t know how to navigate this right now, people. Under most circumstances, I’d shut the tap off. But right now, that acts smacks more of cowardice than self-care. I think of my Black activist friends—and strangers—who just can’t do that. I think of the parents, families of George Floyd. Breonna Taylor.
So many names I don’t know, didn’t notice, didn’t pay attention to. The Washington Post reports that since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 Black people have been shot and killed by the American police.
(You should read/listen to this, by the way: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865261916/a-decade-of-watching-black-people-die)
I am a conflict-avoidant coward. I am not an organizer. And I think most of the time, I’m a shitty ally, too wrapped up in my own story to really pay attention to the experience of others.
The least I can do right now is to bear witness.
I see your pain.
I see the injustice.
I don’t know what the fuck to do, honestly.
But. I witness.