When it comes to our children, we are taught that we should model the behavior that we want them to emulate.
If that is the case, then I wonder what the children of the Jacob Blake have learned. On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Blake, an unarmed African-American man, was shot by police. They shot him in front of his three children as they sat in the family car. The children are all under the age of ten.
As of yesterday, Mr. Blake was still in intensive care.
I have to wonder what message this sends not only to his children, but to everyone’s children? That people of color, especially African-American men and women, are automatically suspicious because of their skin color?
This summer has been one of upheaval, to say the least. Between the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, protests have been happening non stop. The message should be loud and clear. Law enforcement does not have the carte blanche right to arrest and kill simply because the assumed perpetrator has dark skin.
My prayer is two fold. The first half is that Mr. Blake wakes up and returns home as physically and emotionally whole as possible. The second half is that his children are do not grow up with the emotional scars that come with what they witnessed.
It has been said that until one has walked a mile in another’s shoes, one can never truly understand the other person. But that does not mean that we can’t at least try to understand another person’s perspective.
We live in a country in which one’s skin color is one of the factors that determines one’s fate. We also live in a country in which unconscious bias and white privilege also play a role in determining one’s fate. As a Caucasian woman of Eastern European Jewish descent, I’ve never thought about the privilege automatically assigned to me because of my skin color. The last few weeks have made it painfully clear that because of a twist of fate, I have access and a perception that is denied to Americans of color.
Because I do not have the first person experience that a person of color has, I will not even try to speak of that experience. But Trevor Noah has that experience and it is heartbreaking.
I would say that I hope (which often springs eternal) that we, as Americans have finally learned our lesson about racism and racial inequality. But the last few weeks have reminded this nation, in a painful way, that both are still alive and well, even in 2020.
Back in February, Mr. Arbery was out jogging, bothering no one. Father and son duo Gregory and Travis McMichael decided that jogging while black is a crime. Believing that Mr. Arbery was responsible for a series of recent break-ins, they shot him dead.
The unnecessary loss of this man is heartbreaking. What is even more heartbreaking is that today would have been his 26th birthday.
Thing I would ask the men accused of killing him is if they believed that he was the perpetrator of the break-ins, why didn’t they just call the police? Or is one African-American male interchangeable from another?
I’m not African-American, but I am an American and a human being. My heart breaks for those who loved Mr. Arbery and must find a way to live on without him. My hope is that justice is served and Mr. Arbery will be the last person of color who is targeted and/or killed because of their race. But hope in this case, always springs eternal. Especially when it comes to the dicey issues of race and race relations.