December 10, 2014
Your friends, community, neighbors, co-workers of color come to you and say, "I am harassed, threatened, terrorized on the street by police officers. I am experiencing systemic inequality on a daily basis. I live in constant fear that myself, my brother, my son, will be unfairly convicted of a crime, or shot on the street, simply because of what we look like."
And you say, "That is impossible. Racism has been conquered. We have a black president. Everyone lives an equal life here."
And you walk away, convinced that this person is wrong. You have abandoned them, because you are not taking their report as possibly accurate.
My question to you is: In any of these cases, have you done your best?
Since August 9 of this year, I have discovered the depth of my own ignorance about privilege. It has been humbling and difficult; because stepping outside of the world you think exists long enough to see the world as it actually is not easy. I have made it a point to listen and avoid rationalizing away the suffering of others. This is not an issue of cops versus people of color. It is not an either/or discussion of whether or not you support law enforcement.
It is a discussion about equality. It is about fairness. It is about respect. You say, "not all cops" are bad. But the problem is, enough cops are. And you have seen them. You have seen them on video. Bad cops. Killing Americans.
I'm not sure how I can help. But I think a good start is to listen and call attention to the people who are out there fighting for equality.