Do you know what I discovered this week? In the words of a tweet by Charles Blow, the NYTimes columnist—“Everybody deserves to go home.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have a heart of stone, you—dear reader—have discovered the same thing as I did. The cold-blooded murders of two Black men (32-year old Philando Castile and 37-year old Alton Sterling) by White cops who swore to protect and serve our citizens, and the slaughter of the Dallas police officers by a crazed hater of White cops because he was angry about Castile and Sterling’s deaths have made me ill, horrified, sad, broken-hearted, numb, speechless, and frightened for our country’s soul, and the future of my grandson.
All I could help thinking after seeing Charles Blow’s tweet was none of the people who died in these horrific events deserved to die as they did—they all deserved to go home at the end of the day. Mourning these deaths are not mutually exclusive—any decent human being can do both. They all were somebody’s father, brother, son, husband, fiancé, nephew, or friend. All of their lives mattered. And just like Dylann Roof (White man who slaughtered nine Black church attendees in Charleston) does not represent all White people, Micah Xavier Johnson (the Black terrorist who shot and killed 5 Dallas policemen) does not represent the Black Lives Matter group or all African Americans; and just like those two cops in Louisiana and Minnesota who murdered Sterling and Castile do not represent all cops, the fact that 123 African-Americans have been killed by policemen in 2016—not to forget Trayvon Martin walking home with Skittles and an ice tea or 12-year old Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun—does mean we need to take a good hard look at the facts that plague us as a society and fix them. We have it in our power to do so if we just pluck our heads out of the sand.
Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch/Cagle Cartoons
Everyone is wringing their hands in America today, most are claiming that we’re near the brink of disaster as a nation, and many are looking for a “hero” to save us. Well, “we don’t need another hero.” We are America’s heroes! We—you and I—can save us. (To those who blame President Obama for failing to “unite us”—get over yourselves—he can’t lead us where we don’t want to go.)
The issues are multi-faceted but we can conquer them: racism, classism, income inequality, drugs, mental illness, GUNS, GUNS, GUNS, poverty, fear, injustice, hopelessness, and despair. Shun the haters, turn a deaf ear to the liars and the racists, and fight until the end of your days to change the gun laws and the 2nd Amendment (yes, gun worshippers, you are going to have to give up some of your rights so that we all can have the right to go home at the end of the day). And we mustn’t forget to fight a war on poverty. If you have two pieces of bread—share one piece with someone in need, reach out and exude the love of God to all those who cross our paths. We are not Americans first, Black, White, or Latino second, male or female third; we are human beings first and foremost—all created in the image of God—all who deserve to have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, an education for our children, as well as being able to go home at night.
So when you read that a certain ex-Congressman (Joe Walsh) says: “3 Dallas cops killed, 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,”—decry him with all your might by standing up as “real Americans” and denouncing his racist shit so boldly and loudly that he has no other recourse but to crawl back into the rat hole from whence he’s come. When you hear or read that Sarah Palin has gone on a racially-charged rant after all we went through as a country last week and stipulates that the “Black Lives Matter movement is a farce,” take to your Facebook, Tweeter, Instagram, and blog accounts to denounce her and her stupidity, and then make sure no one like her ever gets near a governing office again by showing up to vote in every single election from here on out. Why? It is the only way we will make sure that all of us will go home at the end of the day.
Cartoon used by permission: Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons
In the meantime—until we get our shit together as a country—I’ve got to go and teach my grandson how to survive as a young Black man in America because what the Black Lives Matter movement is protesting is very, very real. Check out this 10 Rules video from Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio—rules I have lived by all my life as a Black woman in America who has been stopped and harassed by White policemen more than I can remember in neighborhoods where they thought I didn’t belong. Most of them were neighborhoods I lived in, and one of those encounters happened just two years ago at the ripe old age of 66. (P.S. Might I add that my husband of 37 years is White, most of my friends are White, and when they get pulled over for a “busted tail light,” it has always been a curtesy notification from the policeman accompanied by a smile and “have a good day!” None of them has ever ended up dead like Philando Castile. I know this because I’ve been in their cars when it has happened, and I am always stunned at the different realities between the Black and the White world in America.)
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.”—Anne Frank
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
All inspirational quotes from www.brainyquotes.com
Want to know more about the author? Check out www.eleanortomczyk.com
Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune/Cagle Cartoons