Monday, December 15, 2014

A Peaceful Plea

(I was asked to speak at a candlelight vigil last Friday night sponsored by the newly formed Anti-Racism Coalition. The following is what I said.)

I wanted to tell you tonight about a few things that I love.

First of all I wanted to tell you that I love the Police. They are in my extended family, they are in my circle of friends, and they are members of my community. I have personally called on the Police in times of great crises and they have always helped me.  I love safe communities and so I am thankful for them.

I love my children. Two came to me biologically and three by adoption and I love them all so much. And I want you to know, they are all really, really cute. But ever since we adopted our youngest three, parents who know firsthand what it means to raise Black children, the boys in particular, warn me that they will only be adorable to the outside world until age twelve. Around that age Black boys transition from cute to threatening in the eyes of strangers.

Age twelve: the age Tamir Rice was when he was shot and killed when playing at a park with a fake gun.

Michael Brown made it until eighteen.

Trayvon Martin made it until seventeen, a menacing Black boy threatening the safety of his community by walking home with a Snapple and a bag of Skittles.

Oh but those cases were far away, that wouldn’t happen here in our idyllic county! I’d like to believe that that is true. But then I see something like a post on the township’s Facebook page in a discussion about public safety, a warning: “I saw a Black couple outside the pizzeria yesterday afternoon. They just seemed out of place—no offense.”

Will my children be perceived as a threat worthy of shooting dead if, in a few years, they are walking with a Snapple and a slice of pizza here in our small New Jersey town? If they’re wearing a hoodie? While Black? I want more life than that for my kids.

My children are not a threat. But they will be threatened.

I love the Police. I love my children and I love your children, too, so I love communities that are safe for everyone. I don’t know how to make that happen, but I do know that all my private crying and hand wringing isn’t going to do the trick. It’s time for education, open dialogue and community action. It’s time to move forward into a future where I don’t have to worry about some of our children more than the others because of the color of their skin.
 It is time.
Photo courtesy of Maggie Cooke
 

3 comments:

  1. nicely done, Gina, I'm glad my daughter was there to hear your words and only wish I could have been, too!

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