I stay the hell away. I can't stand another story. A week doesn't pass without a mass shooting or a police shooting and I want to scream because it is all too much, too tragic, so I stay away. And then I realize that, by staying away, I am also being silent.
Tonight, refreshing my feed to show chronological posts, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and hope. Not surprisingly, I see many of my friends with skin much darker than mine posting about the gut-wrenching, soul-crushing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back murders of people of color by police officers. A few white friends also chime in and I breathe a small sigh of relief. It isn't enough, it will never be enough, but more people are speaking up than ever before. I keep scrolling.
Facebook suggests this article: http://wncn.com/…/raleigh-man-fires-handgun-at-wake-county…/
Breaking my normal rule about simply ignoring the robot's suggestions for me, I click. I read. I start to laugh in a not humorous funny way but in an I'm going to lose my damn mind if people don't witness this irony and see why this is all such a mess gallows funny way. I think about the fact that if people don't stop with the us versus them, either/or mentality, I may actually crack.
In summary, the story reads like this: a drunk man wields a gun, aims it at people in cars driving past him, points that gun, a shotgun, at the officer called to deal with his behavior, resists attempts by that police officer to restrain him, after involuntarily surrendering the shotgun pulls a handgun and fires it, and he is still alive. A WHITE man FIRES HIS GUN while interacting with a police officer and HE IS STILL ALIVE. Meanwhile, two black men, in two days, are dead after interacting with police.
I set my phone down for a little while. I take out the garbage and check on my newly transplanted flowers. I contemplating ignoring all of this. Whether or not I say a word doesn't really matter, I think. Typing my outrage isn't any better than the various infuriating hashtags; praying, thinking, crying are nice I suppose but what good will they do? I don't have answers and I don't know what comes next so I again return to the idea that maybe it is better to remain silent.
A loud, incessant, unstoppable voice—my authentic, loud, incessant, unstoppable voice—screams and refuses to back down: What in the ever-loving fuck is wrong with us??? Even if not one person reads your words, you have to ask this question: WHAT IN THE EVER-LOVING FUCK IS WRONG WITH US?!
Returning to read social media posts like a moth to a flame, I now see a few mentions of a deadly attack on police officers in Texas.
As the proud niece of a retired Oregon State Police Captain and as the friend of many Oregonians choosing to serve by wearing blue, I am disgusted by such senseless murders.
What makes my heart shatter, however, is that the people posting about the loss of police lives are not also mentioning the black lives. (Do not give me "all lives matter" as a response - that is an absolutely ignorant and unacceptable way to view rampant racism.) Conversely, several friends who previously posted about the late Alton Sterling and Philando Castile also write about the unnecessary and tragic loss of blue lives.
People. Friends. We can agree to disagree about all sorts of stuff. We each bring the wealth of our experiences to the table and, often, we disagree. The fact that we don't always agree is a part of why I love you.
Not this time.
It is possible to BOTH support police officers AND stand in outrage when one of them uses the badge they wear to murder. There are bad apples in every profession. My rage against particular members of those sworn to protect does not diminish my deep respect for the large majority of officers doing their very best each and every day to make our world a better place.
Please, I beg you, find room for something other than the either/or belief I see demonstrated over and over again. We do not have to be either/or. I will not stand for this idea that you either you support the police or you don't.
A white man is alive, in jail, tonight, after commuting acts far more egregious than anything either of the, now dead, black men (I watched the videos even though I then vomited, so don't tell me I don't understand) did.
Here's where I come down: I support black men (and women and people of color in general) being treated just like good old William Bruce Ray.
And by treated just like, I mean allowed to live.