Co-authored by Felice and her son Cal
George Floyd died on May 25th. It’s now June 8th and here we are.
As a child of the 60’s, protest and change were a cornerstone of my youth. As Better After 50’s, it is part of our fabric. It is part of America’s fabric. This country was founded by people fed up with the way things were so they reimagined a world they wanted to live, and they fought to build it.
No one wants to see cities burn. No one wants to see looting. But change? Change is how we became American. It’s who we are. We’ve never been perfect, far from it in fact. It’s hard to imagine it’s been 100 years since women were given the right to vote and still we’re not even close to where we want to be. Change takes time. Change takes, too long. I opened with this only for context. Before you condemn rioters or protestors think about our childhoods. Think about how we got here.
Right now though, I have to shift my voice from citizen to MOTHER. A mother’s instincts are different. They are protection above all else. No matter the threat, we protect our nest. AND WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY IS DESPICABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE!
I try to put myself into the shoes of a black mother, and I can’t help but get emotional. Remember the things that would keep us up at night, the things that still do? That pang of worry painstakingly devolving into a web of irrational fears and “what ifs”. But our pillar of safety? Of community? That thing we tell our kids, “if anything happens dial 9-1-1!” The uniform that gives “us” that feeling of safety and community, does the exact opposite for the black community. They fear what keeps us safe, can you imagine? It’s not even an irrational fear. Reading these tragic stories and watching these videos.
It’s not irrational at all to be afraid of the police. I WOULD BE AFRAID. When I do imagine stepping into that mother’s shoes, I am afraid. While we were having our uncomfortable talks about “the birds and the bees” black mothers were forced to educate their children about how to survive encounters with the police.
I’m sick about it. How many other truths in my life are valid just for me. I’m white, I smile my way out of tickets. My tail light is out and I ask the officer for a helping hand. And to think this is only one small piece of the problem. I AM NOW OFFICIALLY WOKE! I’m now so woke about this, I wonder how I could have conceivably been asleep for so long.
I’m ashamed to reveal how eye opening this week has been for me. One week, as compared to the centuries long struggle for the black community seems almost offensive to put on paper. Better late than never I guess? I don’t know. I don’t have answers, just more questions. What else am I blind to. What else do we accept as fact.
The fact remains this. No one, barring the KKK and white suprematists would ever declare themselves or identify as racist. We scowl in disgust at even the thought of these “racists” but… are we? I mean, how have we sat back and watched this become the norm? There are too many implicit biases to unpack, so all I can say is I’m trying.
I realize, like it or not, I have been part of the problem simply because I haven’t been part of the solution. I want to be better. I’m finally listening and hearing the message loud and clear. I want to thank the youth for educating and shining lights on our weak spots like we did for our parents all those years ago. Has it been that long? Have we come that far?
As a mother, nothing matters more than our kids. But America has shown time and time again how it feels about black lives. It’s time to let them know we stand with them. We stand for them.
We need to let the black community, our friends, our neighbors, our teachers, doctors and everyone know, You Matter! Black Lives Matter!
Remember the theme song to those 60’s protests? Bob Dylan’s “Times They are a changing.” 60 years later and we’re in the streets again marching for change. We the people. We’re the ones who make America great again. So we take to the streets to let our voices be heard because that’s what American’s do.
(BA50 is not a political site. This piece is co-authored by Felice and her son Cal. These opinions are those of the writers.)