This Could Have Been Us

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I am absolutely sickened to the point that my heart hurts and my head is spinning. I was just trying to enjoy an evening scrolling through social media, releasing from the “fun” of “bill day”, when I saw my sister-in-law post that yet again there have been two senseless shootings of black men here in the United States. This could have been us, and that makes me even sicker.

If you live under a rock (or try to avoid the news like I do because so much hate and anger in this world), you might not have heard that a man in Minneapolis lost his life right in front of his girlfriend just two days before his 33rd birthday, just two days after our country celebrated its birthday (and let freedom ring). (You can see more about this current event here, there’s a graphic video that gives me the chills.)

And if you did hear that, maybe you didn’t hear about hear about Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. I hadn’t. Then I told Greg how much the loss of Philando hurt me and he told me about Alton. Then I looked. And I cringed and cried again. Here, in case you haven’t.

So let’s not live under a rock and try to pretend these things aren’t happening around us. Let’s talk about them, hash out the things that make us angry. For me, the fact that this could have been us is the hardest thing of all, the thing that is making breathing difficult for me today.

Circle back to 2013. I’ve told this story before, but many of you are new around here. We were driving home from an annual celebration in East Brady when we ran into a routine traffic stop, a DUI checkpoint. Our evening had been full of completely sober fun with my parents at their parsonage (the home a minister and his family live in), yet Greg was asked not so nicely to step out of the car (“boy”) and was thoroughly interrogated by officers while another officer drove the kids and I away from the scene.

Now some of you are probably like, “Beck. Get over this. You guys didn’t do anything wrong. Greg’s still with you. Why make race a factor in this?”. Well, that’s just it. We didn’t do anything wrong, and I am darn lucky he’s still here. Race is a factor because he was pulled out of the truck not for suspicion that he’d been drinking or engaging in reckless drug activity but because of his skin color. Called “boy” in front of his wife and children. And this could have been us.

Like Philando Castilo and Alton Sterling (keep their names on your heart), Greg was innocently trying to do exactly what black fathers have taught their black sons to do in a traffic stop. Keep your hands in sight and do exactly what the officers ask. Disclose anything that could be a concern. Remain calm.

One thing I should mention – Greg does not carry, and has no desire to, so there is one slight difference between him and Philando (and, perhaps, Alton); however, this doesn’t change anything. One small move that the officer didn’t like, a movement of the eye, even, could have turned things from bad to worse that night.

This senseless shooting, these cold-blooded murders should not have happened. It should not be something that I have to constantly wonder – will it happen to my husband or son? Will my daughters bear witness to this hate? This could have been us.

I refuse to let this continue. I want to stand on the front lines and pledge to all my friends and family who are different – I am here and I am not going to be silent. I am going to call out inequalities. I am going to stand up against hate and anger. I am not going to just sit here on my blog and talk about the love of Xavier. Next time someone calls my son or daughter(s) a mutt or a monkey or my husband Tiger Woods, I’m going to call them out. I’m not going to vague-blog as a reaction. I don’t care about the risk. It’s what is right for my children.

I am on the front line. You have my love, support, and prayers. All of you.

Because they matter. Because this could have been us.

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