On Wednesday night, I found myself glancing at the clock every few minutes, wondering when my husband would get home.
Actually, I should clarify: on Wednesday night, I found myself glancing at the clock every few minutes, wondering if he would get home.
I found myself startled by the realization that he could very well not get home, that the “when” I’ve taken for granted most every night of our life together is not a given but a chance reality we both live with, solely because of the color of his skin.
He’d taken a night to be by himself: dinner and walking around a local neighborhood so he could recharge. Maybe my imagination gets the best of me when I imagine him whistling down the street without a care in the world, but what’s to stop him from being targeted, as happened to two fathers who look like him this past week?
As you may know, I’ve dubbed him the HBH (Hot Black Husband) on this blog. It’s a nod to his ethnicity and general level of extremely good-looking attractiveness that also puts a smile on my face every time I type it.
But all the wit in the world can’t stop police brutality that comes at the expense of thousands of black lives just like his.
I suppose I’m a little shell shocked by this week’s events, to tell you the truth. When my best friend texted me yesterday to check in and asked me how we were doing given the events of the week, my response was simple:
I don’t even know what to say, I replied to her. But maybe not knowing what to say, because we’re in such a shell-shocked state of disbelief is the exact point.
I don’t know what to say when two innocent black men lost their lives, within 24 hours of each other, from those who are supposed to protect them the most.
I don’t know what to say when people act like this is happening for the first time, as if police brutality toward the black community is a new reality of the last couple of years.
I don’t know what to say when “systematic racism” is claimed a liberal, left-wing agenda, because I don’t know how such blatant facts can be twisted into lies.
And most of all, I don’t know what to say when tears stream down my face as I type these words, because this is my husband and these are my sons.
But I refuse to do nothing. I refuse to stand in a sea of unknowing.
So, I cry out for justice. I repeat the words of the prophet Habakkuk (1:2-4), whose cries Eugene Peterson hauntingly captures through The Message translation:
God, how long do I have to cry out for help
before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
and stand justice on its head.
How long will we stand for the joke of justice? What will it take for us to heed the call in our land, to stand up and demand justice not for all lives but for the lives of the black community specifically?
It takes the courage to speak up and speak out, every day.
It takes the tenacity to demand justice and beg for institutional change in our country’s criminal justice system.
And it takes turning our tears into righteous indignation for our black mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters who quite simply are our own.
Because here’s what I’ve come to realize: they are my own and they are your own as well. There is not an “us” and “them” – not in the Kingdom of God, not in the ways of this world.
You are mine, and I am yours. We are ubuntu. We are knit together by the common bond of our humanity, for it’s our very humanness that makes us laugh and cry and fight for justice all the same.
So, Alton Sterling, I stand with you.
And Philandro Castile, I stand with you.
I stand with you. I fight for justice. I seek to understand. And I let my tears be made righteous in their indignation.
Black lives matter. So, take steps toward justice: talk to God. Educate yourself. Examine your story. Look for the marginalized who are already among you. And, as Bryan Stevenson says, get proximate. Anything you’d like to add?0