I hate that I have to use the word was, because he’s dead. I didn’t even know who Alton Sterling was until I saw some friends post about it on Facebook. Alton Sterling was killed by police officers, point-blank, while on the ground.
Alton Sterling was a father. If we can agree on nothing else, at least we can agree on that.
It’s hard to find common ground on anything nowadays. Usually I avoid subjects like these, because I have friends whose opinions differ. It feels like you’re either on one side or the other, even when we’re all friends. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
We can have different opinions and still support our friends. We NEED to support our friends. I get tired of the fighting, so sometimes I just give up, because why bother? My voice doesn’t count. I’m not even white. I’d rather stay out of it. But then I realize how selfish that is. I don’t have as much at stake as my black friends.
My children look white minus one. I have one who looks like me. She can feel the difference. She doesn’t quite know what to do with it yet, but she feels different. I worry about her sometimes, but she’s a girl, she’s smart, and she’s pretty. She’ll be fine, I think. I lie awake at night worrying about my children. It keeps me up. Will they be happy? Will a random fire start in our house? Do they have to deal with bullies? Are they being kind to others? But then I fall asleep.
I don’t worry like black parents worry. Especially those with black sons. With recent events, have you felt scared for your kids? With all the mass shootings, does it make you hesitant or fearful to let your children be free and play where they want? I know I’ve felt some of that. That’s what I imagine it feels like for black parents. Every. day. But I don’t know exactly. I’ll never know.
What I do know is that it’s not fair. It’s not right. As a parent, how can you watch the video of Alton Sterling’s son crying for his father and not feel that pain? As mothers, why are we not helping other mothers? Are we instead saying, “Well if he would have just listened to the cops, then this wouldn’t have happened.” That’s pure BS.
Even if you don’t agree, children lost their father. Have you lost a parent? Know someone who has? Do you know that pain? Well 5 children feel that pain! For what? Killed. On the ground. So easily dismissed.
After reading the book, Just Mercy, my perspective changed. I, too, was one who thought, well what if this, what if that? No more. I need to do something. It’s not right. Our black friends are being killed. Alton Sterling was my age. He had 5 children, like me. It hurts.
My friends and I had a Book Club meeting about Just Mercy, and everyone had to be honest with themselves. Have you ever clutched your purse tighter when walking by a black man at night? Did your pulse speed up? Are you nervous around black teenagers in hoodies? Why? We need to ask ourselves these uncomfortable questions if we’re going to change.
Alton Sterling was a father. If you are, too, say something. If you’re a mother, say something. If you’ve never had to live with the fear of being racially profiled, then say something. Honestly, I don’t know what to say or do. Please tell me what to do.
I guess my hope is that there is less hatred in the world. There’s too much already. We can disagree without hating. In fact, we can be friends. Start a dialogue. But let’s do something. Make a difference. Together.