In light of the latest police shootings, many have asked what kind of world we live in. I’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s not pretty. It’s maddening, actually.
How screwed up is this?
We live in a world where I, as a black mom, am forced to be grateful that my half-black son and half-black daughter don’t look black like me and my sister and my brother and my mom and my grandmother and my cousins and nephews and brother-in-law and friends and my coworkers.
A world where maybe, just maybe, the variances in their hair and skin tone and facial features might grant them some considerations, a pass of sorts, that many of my white friends take for granted and that most in my family aren’t given.
Maybe they won’t be pulled over under the pretense of a busted tail light or for driving too slowly or for not wearing a seatbelt or for driving in their own neighborhoods or for putting a long-handled umbrella in the car in the middle of the day when cops somehow manage to “mistake” it for a gun. (Yeah, that happened.)
Maybe, just maybe, they won’t be assumed to be guilty of whatever fear of the day the cop has on his mind – drug dealer, abuser, shoplifter, rapist, gang member, black person, thug. Maybe they’ll manage to survive talking on the phone in a toy aisle with a toy gun. Maybe adults won’t call the police on my son when he’s out playing airsoft with his friends in a field.
Maybe they won’t be Tased or shot or put in a chokehold or cuffed or slammed to the ground or have their necks broken or their airways shut off or they won’t be screamed at on the side of the road or at a gas station or in the middle of the street or in front of our home or at a friend’s house or in their car or a friend’s car or at the store or at the mall or maybe even in their own homes.
Maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it physically unscathed into adulthood and beyond. But I know their spirits won’t. Mine sure hasn’t.
Joyce Clark Hicks is a writer and editor in Raleigh.