Many of you remember a couple of weeks ago when my son was attacked walking home from work. I mentioned in that blog post that his sister came to help him with the police–they assumed that a big kid who couldn’t speak well was obviously high and asking for it.
He was being bullied, in tears, when his sister arrived on scene and told them all he had an auditory processing disorder and they needed to back off. He was bleeding and in tears and he couldn’t put together the words he needed to explain what happened when six people were shouting at him.
They did back off but partly because the firemen arrived, and their priority is to actually help people and not to bully the helpless.
We should be angry–furious–about what happened to George Floyd. Philando Castille, Alton Stirling, Tamir Rice… yes, the list DOES go on! We should hate it because these are our fellow citizens, and whatever the reason for them being detained not one of them–NOT ONE OF THE UNARMED, PEACEFUL MEN ND CHILDREN–deserved to die. (I’d say don’t get me started about the systemic racism that caused them to be detained but oh my God if you don’t understand about systemic racism, GET ME STARTED! Even if you hate ME, I have friends that have endured it and boy, do they have some serious shit to say!)
Nobody deserves to die at the hands of people who are supposed to protect us.
We should hate it for the act itself–bullying the powerless is a reprehensible thing. The people charged with these crimes are sadists with badges–and there are enough of them out there that we start to suspect all policemen are sadists with badges–which isn’t fair to the good cops out there, many of them people of color.
But stupid (white) people don’t get it. When they see that horrific video of George Floyd dying, they see someone else’s child.
White people, we can’t afford to think that way. NOBODY CAN AFFORD TO THINK THAT WAY. A system that encourages the systemic bullying of its citizens is broken. People of color being bullied are easy to spot–and thus easy to bully. But they’re not the only targets. People with disabilities are targets. People with hearing difficulties have been shot for not responding. People with mental health problems are targets. White people, don’t you understand? We should be angry because these citizens who are at risk DAILY are also our friends, our colleagues, our fellow humans. But if that isn’t enough for you, (and oh my God WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???) then that list of people who can get killed by the police with impunity is going to grow and grow and grow.
In a very short while it’s going to include someone YOU care about.
A long time ago I was stopping by Wall-Mart on the way home from work and a friend was talking to the police, in tears. Her nephew–who had a developmental delay much like my son’s, only much more far-reaching–had a meltdown in the middle of Wall-Mart, and the manager had called the police, and the police were shouting at this ten year old kid with severe Asperger’s syndrome and the poor kid was losing his shit.
My friend was near tears, and asked if I could help–I was white, I was a teacher–maybe I could communicate where she was failing.
I stepped forward into the mess and tried to get an officer’s attention. “He’s got a disability,” I said. “Please–just calm things down!”
The officer told me to get the fuck out of there, this didn’t concern me. I looked at my friend and she wiped away tears and said I should go–she was worried I’d make things worse.
Her family was black, and the police were pointing guns at a ten year old boy, and I was helpless. There was nothing I could do–there was no whitesplaining to the bullies with guns, and it was her right to ask me to leave.
The whole thing resolved itself peacefully–I checked with her the next day. But God–it stuck with me. Because people with power–such as a gun–with no compassion and no training at dealing with their fellow humans are DANGEROUS to everybody involved.
If we the people ALL THE PEOPLE don’t work to change the system–and that’s voting work, people, and self-educating about the broken prison system, who our Attorney Generals are, who we’re electing as Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and District Attorneys and school boards and OH FOR FUCKS SAKE PRESIDENTS! the system is going to stay broken, and then our society is going to stay broken, and then everybody’s children are going to be in danger of dying of a knee to the throat by a sadist with a badge and a gun.