To love a black man AND a police man
I’m a person who has to get my thoughts and feelings out into words in order to process them and feel more at ease, so bear with me as I’m brutally honest. I’m not trying to be judgmental or offensive in any way, this is just my current struggle, and if it can help even one person see things differently, than it’s worth any criticism I may face…
This morning I watched a kind, gentle, strong, caring, smart, handsome - and so much more - black man kiss his son goodbye on his way out the door. I told him, as I often do, to be safe. The difference today was that I cried a bit after he left, because I meant it more deeply today then some others. But I didn't say it because he's black and he has to fear for that. I said it because he's a police officer as well, and for the past few years, he has had to fear for that! And that's so heartbreaking for me, for him, for all of us.
In the past few years I've seen him change. I've seen his job change, his friends change, and our family has changed. I've attended more funerals than I'd ever want to and I've cried with black families, white families, Hispanic families, all sorts of mixed backgrounds of families. I've seen kids stop him on the street and smile while they ask him about being a cop, and I've heard the stories of the kids that tell him why they hate him. I've been asked by friends how do I not worry every time he's gone, and I've seen the fear in my families faces. I've watched many people reach out and thank him for what he does, and I've seen it on his hurt face when he's had a day of being told he's just an uncle tom. I've seen such good officers trying to help in horrible situations, being ridiculed and attacked by those who know nothing about them. And I've seen young black men fight for
their lives without being given a chance to explain.
I've seen social injustices my whole life in many different forms, and I've often wondered how I could fight against them. I've always found men of color more attractive and interesting than my own ethnicity, and I'm willing to accept that as a character flaw if need be, as many see that as a form of racism still, but it's just part of who I am and I've never hurt anyone by it. I've spoken out against the hatred of the kkk as a 12 year old girl in a podunk racist town, writing an in depth 7th grade history report on the horrific events the Klan has been part of. I've felt shame and disgrace for a whole community as I watched the only black girl in my high school class withdraw and move after some disgusting cowards spray painted "kkk lives" on the tennis courts. I've received confused looks and jokes when being a fairly sheltered white girl wearing "cross colors" gear to a nearly all white school while listening to country music. I've spent years of my young education in the late 90's at a private liberal arts college learning about the current societal issues in my many sociology courses that focused on the women's movement and homosexual acceptance. I lived a small town, hard-working, white life for a few years as a young bride in a stereotypical blue collar white family who wasn't involved with many in the black community. I forgot what not being white could look like. And I still struggled with how I could help fight against injustice. I spent the majority of my younger years wanting to be in law enforcement and then found that I didn’t fit there very well, as I don’t have very thick skin. But my respect for the badge and the people who choose to wear it and risk their own safety on a daily basis still continues. I still wish that I would’ve toughed it out and tried harder to make my own private impact on social injustice, no matter how small.
More recently, I've fallen in love with a wonderful black man and have spent some of the best years of my life with him. I’ve seen the way he cares for people and looks at the world with more optimism than I could ever imagine, as he often sees people in the worst times of their lives. I’ve felt the way he’s able to make everyone around him immediately know what a good man he is and how what a great cop he must be. We’ve created the most amazing dark skinned baby boy. I've faced prejudicial treatment as a biracial couple and I've watched my man be treated poorly in situations where I may not have. I've been judged by strangers based on whom I've chosen to love, and I've not always been welcomed by those who see me as just another white woman trying to steal a man from the black community. I've felt and seen all these hard truths, and it's left me feeling tired and scared, and still not knowing how to fight. But I want to, I want to fight! Fight against prejudice. Fight against social injustice, societal unrest, crappy political administration, and much more. But mainly, it’s left me wondering how the hell I’m supposed to fight for the life of my child! How am I supposed to help my child live a happy and successful life full of pride and security? I feel like I've been fighting in my own small ways since I was old enough to know there was a difference, even though I tell myself I wish I didn't see it...
But here's where it gets messy and confusing to me; I want to fight even harder because I'm in love with and share a life with a strong and wonderful black man. And I have the most amazing half black son, and I want him to be proud to be dark! I want him to know the deep history behind his color and be so proud to be beautiful! But because I love that black man and I support and cherish everything he holds dear, it makes it hard to find a good way to fight that fight, because imagine this- that wonderful black man is still proud to be a police officer. And a Damn good one! And even though he fears for his life and safety and the future of his child every day when he puts on that gun n badge, he still does it, and he still loves it! But the pride that used to go along with it slowly fades more each day. Because not only does he have to worry about others' safety every day, he's now being asked to worry even more about his own, and hoping that someday, any moment, he won't be asked to choose between his life and his uniform, or his color or his badge. Praying each night for the safety of his people and at the same time his fellow officers, and every morning that he won't be judged by the black of his skin or the blue of his uniform. When really, he should be proud to wear both. I want my son to know its okay to want to be a police officer. I want him to know the love of his father and the pride he once had for the job he does so well. And yet I want him to be proud to have a happy and loving white mother. I want him to know that there is a great deal of good in this world, and I want him to feel that every day! I want him to want to fight for that good to continue, not to have to fight for his own life! Ideally, I want to the world for him… but not this world. Not today’s world. Not the world where a beautiful, inside and out, black man that is my whole life, is treated so poorly no matter what side of him he chooses to be proud of. Not this world where he actually HAS to choose which side of him he can show in different situations. I don’t want him to feel fear. I don’t want him to know what it’s like to be treated differently based on the color of his skin or his parents’ or his career choice. I don’t want to continue to live in fear and worry if my life will drastically change each time his daddy walks out the door. But I don’t see that I have a choice. I’m still struggling with finding the right way to fight against this sad, scary world we have created. And I greatly fear that nothing I choose to do will make an impact, or make a better place for my son to live. And this is why I cried this morning. And last night. And probably many days and nights to come. Because I love a black man, and I love a police officer, and I love our mixed race child. And apparently that’s not something to be proud of these days. But my love will not end.