My heart aches today. We have a real race issue in this country that can NOT be ignored.

Change, I mean REAL CHANGE, starts in the home. Mamas – it starts with us!

be the change

This is not the type of post we usually put up on Lose the Cape. We try to avoid politics and controversy, but there comes a time when you have to take responsibility for what is happening in your world. This is one of those times. And truthfully, I feel like this is a parenting issue as much as it is anything else.

There is SO MUCH I could say about what happened yesterday to Philando Castile, and shortly before that with Alton Sterling, and so many others. However, the truth of the matter is so simple.

The real issue stems from right in our own homes.

We don’t have a cop problem.  (Maybe a little bit of a cop problem, but not as massive as people make it seem.) We have a LISTENING problem.We have a CULTURE problem. We have an EMPATHY problem. We have a GUN problem. Let’s unpack these things and how we as mothers can make a difference. If you’re willing to try, that is.

Change, I mean REAL CHANGE, starts in the home. Mamas - it starts with us! Click To Tweet

The LISTENING problem

I think this might be our biggest issue right here. Seriously. No one LISTENS. Okay. That’s not fair. Lots of people DO listen. But it seems that so many others don’t even try to hear. They don’t try to understand what is going on at the root of the issue. Many quickly jump to judgement and excuses for what is happening, or even worse, try to insert their own issues. He must have had a record. He must have been on drugs. He must have… blah, blah. It’s so dangerous to be a cop. He must have been scared. And so forth.

We’ll see right here and now if YOU have a listening problem. Are you willing to read this post and TRY to shut out everything from the outside? Are you willing to TRY to see it from the perspective of a black American?

Or are you just going to start responding immediately with all the things that YOU think could have happened or WHY the cop responded the way he did? Are you willing to LISTEN?

Before you start attacking me, here is a perfect example of a listening problem. I want to share something my friend posted on her Facebook page yesterday. There’s an interesting bit of information you should know about this story. Her husband, a black man, was adopted by a white family. He has not been raised to hate or fear white people, but is still subjected too often to blatant racism. He has never been in trouble.

Hear her words:

I have been very speechless about the past events that are making headline news…..

For a bunch of my friends, these events in the news are just another story. Another person getting killed…. Too far from home to make you feel any kind of way.

Can I ask you a question? What if this was Ray? You know, Ray, my husband, who most of you know.

Want to know a secret that we don’t talk about…in many instances this could be Ray.

Since moving to SC, Ray has been pulled over at least 5 times (not ticketed) driving home from work at night. His father, brother, and brother in law (whom are white) takes this same route home for the past 6 years. Guess how many times they have been stopped. Answer: 0
In one instance while wearing a shirt with the company’s logo, driving a car with the same company’s logo, he was followed to work just to make sure he wasn’t lying to the officer.

Raise your hand if this has happened to your husband…????????

Raise your hand if your husband has been followed home while driving in his own neighborhood…????????

Not long after I had our last son, Ray went to fill up my truck with gas and to get some things I needed for myself at CVS.
He called me angry. Want to know why? Two cops showed up shortly after and followed him aisle to aisle as he got things I needed for my postpartum care. He finally asked the officers if something was wrong. One officer replied saying, l don’t know, you tell me.” Ray found out The guy at the register called the cops because he didn’t feel safe. Ray and another lady were the only ones in the store. He made it home safe that night.

So yes, these stories hit home for me. I have to sit up and wait for my husband to get home at night just so I know he’s safe. ????

For some of you, I’m sure the thought of your husband not making it home at night doesn’t even cross your mind.

Based on the excuses I have seen,
No Ray does not have a rap sheet.
No drug charges
No arrests
Not a felon
No gang affiliation
Or any other excuse to why a black man should be killed when encountering a police officer.

Excuse the grammar, I haven’t proofread, this was just a heartfelt status to help enlightened some of my “friends.”

I posted her brave words on my Facebook page. An example of a response:

2 cops were shot during a Dallas protest tonight…. The fear they must feel protecting us daily! Wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers shouldn’t worry that every time their loved one walks out the Door to protect us they might get shot or put down for being a cop!!!

In response to that, another friend replied:

Wait until your biracial kids are old enough for you to have to explain to them why they must behave differently in almost every situation outside of the home and certainly with police. Wait til it’s your children you are concerned about like that every time they leave the house. As a mother of biracial children I get it, though I will never fully comprehend what it means to live every day as a black amerikkkan.

Do I support Law Enforcement? Hell yeah I do. I used to work in Law Enforcement. My ex-brother-in-law is a cop. I have very dear friends that are married to cops. Are they all bad? NO. Am I thankful that they are out there risking their lives every day to protect me. YES. Does supporting them mean I can’t acknowledge there is a problem. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

WE ARE NOT LISTENING!!!

Yes, it is dangerous to be a cop. YES, people shoot at them just for BEING A COP. Do I support Law Enforcement? Hell yeah I do. I used to work in Law Enforcement. My ex-brother-in-law is a cop. I have very dear friends that are married to cops. Are they all bad? NO. Am I thankful that they are out there risking their lives every day to protect me. YES. Does supporting them mean I can’t acknowledge there is a problem. ABSOLUTELY NOT. And we MUST open our ears to HEAR the conversation.

It is also JUST AS NOT OKAY for people to attack and kill cops. 99% of them are heroes, doing the right thing every day. I was very saddened to hear about the attacks against police in Dallas.

Mamas – YOU ARE NOT BEING DISLOYAL TO THE POLICE COMMUNITY OR TO YOUR OWN RACE BY ADMITTING THERE IS A PROBLEM. But it’s NOT a police problem.

Jon Stewart says it perfectly:

jon stewart

There’s still more to be said

I feel like I have not adequately covered the listening problem until I share this tidbit.

My friend Harmony Hobbs, a wonderful writer and friend to the Lose the Cape Community, wrote a beautiful, reflective post yesterday. Alton Sterling’s Death Will Forever Change the Way I Raise My White Sons. (and this was BEFORE Philando!)

The point of the article, which you should read, is that Harmony realized it was HER responsibility to teach her boys about the differences in society. She understands she has to acknowledge those differences in order to raise her boys to be different than how society is now. Harmony was LISTENING. She realized that her white boys ARE treated differently by society. They have a responsibility to change the status quo, first by admitting there is a difference. Harmony states:

TODAY, I TOLD THEM THE TRUTH. I TOLD THEM THAT THEIR WHITENESS BRINGS PRIVILEGE AND WITH PRIVILEGE COMES RESPONSIBILITY, AND ALL THIS TIME I’VE SAID THAT PEOPLE ARE ALL THE SAME, I’VE BEEN LYING.

And here is how some people responded:

listening problem

We have a LISTENING problem. These people didn’t listen. They didn’t even try. They just immediately jumped to their own stories… their own troubles… their own, well, bullshit.

Enough on that. Are you still listening?

On to the underlying culture problem.

The CULTURE problem

It pains me to say this out loud, because I don’t want to admit that I’ve had these feelings. But, it has been MY experience that white people are conditioned to be scared of black people. That’s MY opinion, MY sentiment, and your experience could be incredibly different. I hope so. But, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say we are subliminally (and not so subliminally) taught that black men are lazy, thugs, and bad.

LISTEN TO THIS. WATCH THIS. This is how they feel. And it makes me sad.

We have to stop making assumptions that just because a black person is black they’re bad, or just because a person is white they are racist.

Likewise, just because a person is a cop does not make them a racist out to kill black people.

We have to stop judging people just based on the vessel that God gave them, the vessel that they can do absolutely nothing about.

We have to have a conversation and open up our minds and our hearts and our eyes and realize that we are all people and it’s not excuse the phrase just black or white.

We have to raise our children to realize that it’s not okay to judge someone by the way they look.

We have to change the conversation.

Yes, white people get shot by police too. But check out this analysis on shootings by cop. The report found:

The results provide evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being {black, unarmed, and shot by police} is about 3.49 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police} on average.

We have an Empathy Problem

I’m guilty of fearing differences as well. I’m guilty of looking at someone and making a snap judgement. I’m guilty of fear.

I never claim to be above it. Anyone who says they are completely put a quote colorblind is lying. We all notice people’s differences. It’s how we respond to them that matters. What I think makes me different is that I try REALLY hard to be empathetic. I try to LISTEN and LEARN from other people. I realize that I HAVE been born into privilege. I will raise my children not to try and overcompensate, but to try and understand. To be a part of the solution, not the problem.

We have to insert empathy. We must acknowledge that a person is a person.  Fear and prejudiced are often ingrained in the way that we were raised. We are conditioned to fear certain things. We are conditioned to believe certain things about people. Why is it so hard for white people to understand the journey of black people? Acknowledging that their lives ARE different and that our culture treats black men differently is an important step in moving forward.

We have a Gun Problem

Not an argument I want to get into today, but this is an underlying issue.

So what are we going to do about it?

Mamas! We CAN make a difference. We MUST. We can talk to our children and acknowledge there is an issue. Like Harmony did.

We can become educated. Check out this amazing post: How to become an Ally to the Black Community.

She brings up so many good points and offers such great suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s about being educated about people and their differences. It’s about teaching our children that differences are OK! I’m “borrowing” this paragraph from her (and in full disclosure, I found the above video in her post too):

Read them books about race and books featuring children with different backgrounds. Give them multiracial toys. Let them listen to a variety of music. Some book suggestions: (These are affiliate links, and any proceeds will go to Black Girls Rock!, Inc.)

+ I Am Rosa Parks
+ I Am Jackie Robinson
+ I Am Martin Luther King Jr.
+ Chocolate Me
+ The Skin You Live In
+ I Love My Hair
+ Big Hair, Don’t Care
+ Full, Full, Full of Love

We can LISTEN. We can be KIND.

And stop making assumptions. Assumptions make us all assholes.

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