A few days ago, I was chatting with my husband about how amazing it was that our kids have never known a country where there wasn’t a black president and could potentially be a woman president. (Full disclosure, I did not vote for Barack Obama for a second term, and am not sure for whom I am voting in the current election. My personal politics aside, I can still recognize the importance of this moment in history.) We also talked about how same-sex couples are no longer taboo, and how it probably won’t be an awkward conversation when our kids ask why so-and-so has two mommies. I left that conversation feeling optimistic about the future. Maybe the world really wasn’t so awful. After Orlando, I was happy to feel that way again.
And then it happened, another black man killed. Alton Sterling. I read the articles, absorbed the discussion. I was left feeling sad, but with questions. Was he reaching for a weapon? Did I miss something? Did they have to shoot him like that? Was this “standard procedure?”
And then another. Philando Castile. A man who was killed in front of a child. A man whose death inspired this reaction from the governor of Minnesota. And again, I have questions. How did the cop in question misconstrue reaching for a wallet as reaching for a gun? Was it all a “tragic mistake?”
While all of this has been going down in the real world, I have been immersed in the current season of “Orange Is The New Black.” Don’t worry, no spoilers here. Between the real world and fantasy, I have been going to bed feeling as if I have been gut punched to my soul. But I know that is nothing compared to how my black friends are feeling. I know I can always stop reading Facebook posts and turn off Netflix.
But it doesn’t have to be this way for our kids. They can know a world where police are heroes, not villains. They can know a world where progress doesn’t just happen at the highest level of government and privilege. They can know a world where we respect the struggles of all, and instead of fighting over who has it worse, unite over how to make it better.
They can, because we can. So let’s do it.