I wish I could erase the tragic past.
I’m Not Racist But I Feel Guilty
Reform is needed now. There is no excuse for violent crimes against humanity.
I am not a racist person, but I feel guilty about the things African Americans have endured. I often think back to a specific day in my childhood when I was still unaware of what it meant to judge others by their skin color.
I was five years old. It was a hot, sunny day in Rialto, California. My mother brought me along for a boring trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. We got in line and waited, with many people ahead of us, and many piling in behind us.
While fidgeting with the dividers that helped the line stay orderly, I tugged on the chain gently. Someone tugged back! It was crowded but I peeked through the elbows and saw a very dark-skinned boy at the other end of the chain. I giggled and tugged again.
He laughed loudly, and we started a little game of tug-of-war. He inched closer to me and I moved closer to him as well. By this time the adults in the line had given us some wiggle room and they were observing us. I assume it was because we were both at that age with chubby cheeks and silly ideas. We were cute.
The little boy said loudly “I bet you I can run faster than you!” and I was up for the challenge. He pointed at a vending machine that was a few hundred feet away and said: “Race me to the candy machine.”
I asked my mom for permission and she nodded in approval.
The little boy paused and said, “I need to ask my mama too.”
I looked at the three closest women in line. A blonde woman with pale skin, an elderly white woman with grey hair and a woman with very dark skin, like his.
I asked innocently “Well which one is your mama?”
All the people in line at that moment broke into a roar of laughter, because to them it was obvious which woman was his mother.
The African American woman laughed and said, “That’s me.” She was cracking up — I will never forget the sound of her laugh.
At the count of three, we zoomed off. The little boy won. Life went on as usual.
The point of the story is that as children we were innocent. We just shrugged when the adults all chuckled because we didn’t understand what was so funny.
Looking back, I envy that childlike approach. The color blindness of a child with a simple friend.
I had not yet learned of the terrible things that African Americans endured at the hands of my ancestors. I had no feelings regarding skin color at all.
And while I realize that what was done before my time is not my fault I cannot help but feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed by the actions of the people who inflicted harm on many generations of African American people.
I think the feelings of anger, leftover from the years that were before my time, still affect our society psychologically. Surely others feel it too.
If I feel guilty over things I did not do, then imagine the torn feelings inside an African American woman my age. She probably feels embarrassed. Enraged. Hurt. Self-conscious. I cannot imagine the mix of turmoil a “black woman” must experience over the years of her life. I try to picture what it would feel like, sitting through classes where they teach the history of slavery with such a bland voice, such a factual reiteration of events. That must cut so deeply into the soul. I cannot imagine it.
Even though it has been a long time that people have had equal freedoms, the wounds of being treated like animals, as lesser humans than any other race… those wounds don’t heal, I fear.
Years of blending and accepting and doing our best as people — no matter what color … it all takes a lot of effort and it gets undermined instantly when criminally insane white guys slip through the radar and become law enforcement, as seen in the death of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis law enforcement.
All of the hard-earned trust between people shatters when someone with appointed authority inflicts violence without reason. It is frightening and sickening to see cops, paid to protect and serve, ignore their civic duties.
It is unfathomable that someone entrusted with the power to protect the public could abuse this power and perpetuate the hatred that we, the human race, should have long-abandoned.
This has to stop. Reform is a must.
Policemen all over the country will be seen as villains now because of the actions of a few terrible men who happened to have badges. Violent, murderous cops are NOT representative of all cops. I wish this fact was more obvious.
I wish African American men did not have to be afraid when a police officer drives past.
Police officers should be forced to go through more rigorous psychological evaluations before being put to work. Plus cops should be required to prove they can empathize with others many times a year throughout their career-span. More must be done to prevent sick and violent people from becoming cops.
Not only that but given the nature of the work a police officer must get used to, I think no man or woman should be allowed to work as a cop for longer than a few years- tops. People who work in a crime-fighting capacity for more than a decade seem to harden up. I guess that happens.
We need to treat the workforce that revolves around law enforcement as an urgent and focused sector. Anything less than a high standard of conduct would need to be classified as a high risk to public safety, and an officer should not get a second opportunity to show troubling behaviors. One infraction or deviation from protocol should result in their front line duties being terminated.
It should be assumed that anyone who becomes a police officer is likely to become desensitized to violence and therefore should not serve in that position for more than a few years. This works for our military, and it works for our elected officials. It needs to be considered for our front line law enforcement too.
Violent people will gravitate towards a job that lets them wield a weapon — and given enough time, eventually, a truly blood-thirsty person will find a way to inflict harm somehow on someone. We need to make sure those people do not become police officers, or at least, if they slip past the radar they should not have such ample opportunities to inflict danger on the public.
Because of recent, unspeakable violence, we are once again at a bursting point, as a nation.
I wish I could erase the things that others have done, but I cannot.
I am ashamed of humanity, as a whole, for being so shallow and uncivil.
We are not wild animals. We are evolved good beings. We should not be murdering each other.
I think back to that day when I was five years old, often. I think of that little boy and the sound of his laughter. I picture his mother, and I feel sorry for all she probably has been through. I wish we could stop the rift between people, and think like innocent kids again.