Akai Gurley, Amadou Diallo, community, death, empathy, Eric Garner, excuse, explanation, Ferguson, I get it, indictment, Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, police, police brutality, police violence, Sean Bell, senseless violence, Trayvon Martin, violence
If you’re REALLY confused about why people are upset to the point of reacting with senseless violence against the lack of an indictment for Officer Wilson in #Ferguson, try empathy.
What if, every time your son/husband/father/boyfriend/nephew (because it’s almost always boys and men who are shot and killed) went outside into the world, you wondered if he were ever coming home?
And every day of your life, this was your fear.
Now consider this: in the space of a month, or a year, or a decade, or a century or two, there are a series of shootings and killings by the people who are charged to protect and serve ALL of your community.
Imagine now that the victims of those shootings and killings have ALL been white men, or ALL been Hispanic men, or ALL been Asian men, or ALL been Aleutian men, or ALL been American Indian men, or ALL been Hasidic Jews, or ALL been part of whatever community or ethnic group YOU belong to.
Imagine now that these killings have all gone on for YEARS; and, there is also a long history of YOUR community getting the wrong end of the stick from the rest of society, not for a few months, but for a few centuries.
Imagine now that the majority of the people who do not live in your community, which is suffering from the disproportionate killing, assault, and imprisoning of your young men– those people wonder why you are in pain, and wonder why that pain might express itself in violence, and wonder why that violence might be at times self-directed or seemingly senseless and self-destructive.
EMPATHY is called for here, not simply sympathy.
IMAGINE: YOU are Michael Brown’s father; YOU are Akai Gurley’s girlfriend; YOU are Eric Garner’s children; YOU are Trayvon Martin’s parents; YOU are Sean Bell’s fiancee; YOU are Amadou Diallo’s mother.
These dead men, these children of God (just like you), were flawed humans (just like you) who had people who loved them (just like you), had friends, classmates, neighbors, plans, dreams, hopes (just like you).
I want you to consider whether at some point, at some point when your pain and grief and RIGHTEOUS anger at your terrible loss and your seemingly hopeless situation and the risk you run by simply stepping out your front door into the outside world, compounded by the lack of simple fellow feeling by people who do not live the life you live everyday and cannot even imagine doing so– what incredible restraint would it take not to eventually erupt in fists, gunshot, and fire?
Where is all of that grief, anger, loss, frustration, neglect and pain supposed to go?
This essay is not meant to be an excuse for looting or rioting or violent demonstrations; it’s meant to be an explanation for why that might occur even under the best of circumstances (which these times are not). It is a call for empathy, for feeling another’s pain as though it were your own, and understanding what that experience of unrelenting pain can do to a human community. #IGetIt
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