I woke up, got dressed, put on my mask, put the leash on my rescue dog, Ginger, pocketed a couple of poop bags and headed out for my morning walk. The sky was clear, and even though the 7:00 a.m. California sun bore down on me, I briskly made my way down the trail to the beat of Motown tunes. (I mention that because my granchildren call me "Motown Grammy" What can I say? The music gets me moving and feeling young.)
Eight thousand and twenty-seven steps later, I arrived back home, turned off Motown, checked my email, then tuned in to the online news. I read the headline, I CAN'T BREATHE: MAN DIES AFTER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER SEEN KNEELING ON HIS NECK.
"Another one?" I said, choking up. "When is this going to end?"
I scrolled down on my computer and was stopped by the image on a video of a woman struggling with a dog, dialing a cell phone. I unmuted the sound and heard the reporter's voice over: A 41-YEAR OLD WHITE WOMAN CALLED POLICE ON A 57 YEAR-OLD BLACK BIRDWATCHER AFTER HE ASKED HER TO PUT A LEASH ON HER DOG IN AN AREA WHERE SUCH RESTRAINTS ARE REQUIRED.
"Oh, my God," I cried out in disgust. "She set him up to die."
Then I scrolled down expecting to see that the man in the park had been shot by police, but spotted another headline instead: DISPARITY IN COVID-19 TESTING SITES IN WHITE AND BLACK COMMUNITIES IN TEXAS.
"Jesus Christ." I was enraged, so worked up, tears flowed. "They want us all dead. And those of us they can't shoot, they'll let Covid kill. Why?" I screamed, channeling Sally Field when she'd questioned her only daughter's death in the movie STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Never mind that there was no one to hear me except my two-year old reescue mutt cowering under my desk. The poor thing hadn't been with me long enough to witness any behavior in me other than hugs and walks. Like Sally, though, I was consumed with pain and outrage. My tone and vocal chords indicated just how intensely infuriated I felt.
I am a 72-year old widowed grandmother, and because of that, the weight of racism is heavy and getting heavier. My heart is breaking-breaking for my black, as well as my white grandchildren. I thought I'd lived through the worse times; that I'd taught my kids what I'd learned from my racial encounters and had lived a life that ensured a repeat of my racial experiences would not be part of the world they live in. Today, though, I'm terrified.
"What is in white people's DNA that makes them believe that brown and black people are not human?" I roared.
I yelled so loud, it occurred to me that my white neighbors might hear me. I didn't care. I'd reached that point. I wanted a white person-especially a so-called non-racist white person-to answer me. I still do.
I want to know why it is so hard for 'non-racist' white folk to speak up and/or act out, against those who disrespect humanity so cruelly?
I want to know where is the 'we-are-better-than-this' white folks' self-righteous indignation when a white man kills a black man with a knee on his throat for the whole world to witness?
I want to know why 'do-unto-others.., bible-quoting' white folks speak in a collective voice in opposition to policies and actions they believe will traumatize the well-being of their children, but are mute when the air and water in black and poor communities are deliberately poisoned?
I want to know why at least a pair of white policemen with guns, fear for their lives from an unarmed black man in handcuffs?
I want to know why young black and brown boys can't make a mistake without being killed or locked up?
I want to why white so-called 'patriots', in a land their ancestors stole, think they are the only ones entitled to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
I want to know why a black man can plead for the safety of a white woman who falsely accuses him of a crime, but she can't admit she's racist.
I want to know why today's black America has to shoulder the responsibility for race relations while enduring the consequential indignities of slavery, and 'non-racist, Christian' white Americans won't even acknwledge their ancestors created those indignities that today's white leaders continue to perpetuate?
WHY? I CRY. WHY?