The events detailed in I cried when I got home became a turning point in my life. I became more active here and elsewhere and more receptive to listening to others' pain. But someone had to die to spur me to the streets.
Last Thursday, my husband and I drove downtown in our city to join other folks here in Raleigh and around the country in expressing our outrage at the lack of indictment against the police officer who killed Eric Garner.
As usual, there were way more black folks there than white folks, which infuriated me. Didn't everyone see how unfair this all was? Where were the rest of the white people in this majority-white city?
On Tuesday, I saw this article, which shows that though most white people might believe that the police officer who killed Eric Garner should have been indicted (they ain't so sure about Darren Wilson), they also largely believe that the police in their own town or city are treating black folks just fine. And then I understood.
Apparently, most white people still don't believe this is an issue black people face anywhere and everywhere. They see it as just a case of a few "bad apples." So how is it that I and some other white people can see so clearly that the issue of police brutality is institutionalized and happening to people of color all over this country and are marching in the streets, but most other white folks cannot and are not? What is different about us?
I suppose we could look at how most white Americans don't have friends of color. Self-segregation does make it easier for white folks to tune out folks of color. But the thing is, in real life, I have no friends of color, merely a couple of acquaintances. So I'm not sure having no friends of color is the sole issue. We could also look at how the history of racism is even taught in schools, but again, I went to the same schools and received the same terrible education about race relations as most of the other white students.
In wracking my brain to try and figure this out the past few days, I was thinking about how I progressed from being a confused young white teenager who noticed something odd about race relations in this country way back during the LA riots of 1992 to a determined white woman out in the streets of Raleigh last week, eyes fully open to the racist framework of our injustice system. As with anything else in life, my thinking on this issue grew organically based on the people I met and what they said, how they behaved.
But it hit me Monday night precisely how I personally began to understand why police brutality against people of color is a major issue, and how I personally went from railing against injustice from behind my computer screen to getting out on the streets to protest. Follow me below the squiggly-do for more.