I am shattered by the brokenness of our country right now. Devastated. Disgusted. Broken. In disbelief. And I don't know. I just don't know. I don't know how to fix it. I don't know how to explain it, and I don't know if I even have a right to feel this way.
My heart breaks for the people of Baltimore. I sit here, on my laptop, in my bedroom, looking around at all I have, all I complain about, and I wonder what the fuck is wrong with me. How I can have any complaints when there is such injustice and pain going on elsewhere.
I could write about my anger. About how mad I am that some lives seem to matter more than others, and about how some of those who think they matter less are responding in an absolutely barbaric manner. But I won't. I can't. I can't bring anymore anger to a situation that is fueled by hate and misunderstanding.
I don't pretend to know much. I am a 31 year old white woman from the northern suburbs of Chicago. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and a tan. I am no one's idea of struggle. I understand that. And, no matter my struggle, it is NOTHING compared to what many face every day. And I am thankful beyond belief for my lot in life. So I will not show anger. I will show love.
I love you. The man or woman who quietly looks over at your sleeping spouse and thinks, "please, let me come home to them tonight." The one who puts on a uniform and attaches a gun to their hip, hoping it's just another day of speeding tickets and paperwork. I don't know how you find the courage to do this every day. I don't know how you go into work knowing you could die. But you do. You know what that badge means to you, what your force family is to you. You know the good you want to bring to your communities, our communities. And I love you for it.
I love you. The men and women of color who walked peacefully hand in hand with those whose skin color may be different, but whose hearts are the same; to demonstrate that in times of heartbreak and injustice, common ground can be found. I don't know how you find the strength to keep going when you don't see a change. I don't know how you can keep yourself calm. But you do. You know that nothing changes overnight and that there is strength in numbers. You know that it is a million tiny moments that lead to change. And I love you for it.
I love you. The police officers who don't honor their badge. The ones whose commitment isn't to the betterment of our communities, but whose commitment is to towering their power over others through force. I don't know what broke you. I don't know what happened in your life, the terrible things you've seen that have jaded you to your profession, or to the people you walk among everyday. But you do. You've seen despicable things. You've been through things on the job that you can't put into words. And you are broken. I want to believe there is good there.
I love you. Those who thought the only way was to riot. Those who saw no better way to justify their pain than to destroy. Those who couldn't find an answer, so caused damage. I don't know the injustice you've seen in your life. I don't know what it's like to have no other way than to just try and survive. I haven't lived in fear on a daily basis that I will be accused, hurt, or killed because of my skin color. But you do. You have lived that and you have survived that and you are angry. And I am sorry. I want to believe you know better. I want to believe that you can find a better way.
I love you. The ones who wait at home for their spouse, or child, or sibling to make it through another day unharmed. I've never had to watch my person walk away, not knowing if I would see them alive again. I've never jumped at every phone call or held my breath until I hugged them again. But you have. You took on an extra role when your person took on that badge. You feel that anxiety constantly, and you let them protect us, anyways. Thank you.
I love you. Those who are still stuck in a belief pattern that the color of skin matters. Whether it be through hate, ignorance, or just the momentary lapse of being an asshole. Because this I DO know. I have been that asshole. I have been ignorant enough to have referred to a table of black people as "Canadians" when I waited tables. I have perpetuated stereotypes within the place I worked. I was just that, ignorant. I have laughed or kept my mouth shut when I've heard a racial slur or joke. Because I was an asshole. No excuse. I knew I could be better. I became better. We can be better.
We have to be better. This cannot keep happening in our communities. We cannot watch the mistakes of the past haunt us and become the choices of our present, and the scars on our future. And, yes, I say ours. I am different that those in Baltimore right now, but only because I was born in a different place, to different people, with different opportunities. It could easily be any of us. I will not let my nieces and nephews grow up in a world where we are given a worth based on the color of skin we were born with. I will not allow there to be a basing of worth for anything.
You are worthy. I am worthy. WE are ALL worthy. Worthy of a life with unlimited potential. Worthy of communities that are safe and just. Where I can walk down the street and not feel the need to cross over because I'm fearful of the man walking towards me. Where that same man can walk down the street and not be fearful of the police officer driving past him.
I don't know what the answer is, and I don't know how to fix it. But I will tell you this. It won't be with hate. It won't be with more young black men being killed. It won't be by burning down our communities.
It won't be with anger. It can't be with anger. It has to be with empathy. It has to be with love.
I want us to be better. And I know you want us to be better.
And I love you for it.
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