A few things on my mind.
The first is, all of this is hard to talk about. Because, I mean, who am I, right? Just some white guy. Do I really have anything to say?
I used to live in the Longfellow neighborhood and would drive by the third precinct a few times a week. But I feel like my connection to the neighborhood was more of a geographical connection, than a connection with the community. I made friends with some of my neighbors, of course, but none of the friends that I made when I lived in Longfellow were part of the black community. (I regret that, and maybe I can tell that story of how my racism has impacted my life (and made it poorer) some other time.)
Also, hello friends. I should have started with the greeting, my apologies. I hope you are doing... as well as possible under the circumstances.
I don't know what you are thinking right now. But yes I have seen the video. I've seen that video too. And the other one, and those five that were posted yesterday evening. The video of George Floyd. Videos of protestors getting beaten by cops. Videos of cops getting bricks thrown at them.
And not just the videos, but the photos. And not just the photos, but the memes. (There's a lot of it out there, maybe you've noticed.)
Again, I keep coming back to, what do I have to say? What am I bringing to the table?
Most of you know but my wife is expecting a baby, literally any day now. We are officially in overtime. So I haven't been down to Lake Street since any of this happened. As much as my heart longs to go, my truck is kinda acting up and all through the weekend my wife was having light contractions, so, no. I haven't made it to Lake Street. I haven't made it over to Cup Foods. (I haven't even made it to Cub Foods because they boarded up my Cub here in Roseville.)
But I have so many friends, acquaintances, and coworkers impacted by this. I realized earlier this evening that I have friends who live just off Lake Street. I have friends who own, and who work in businesses along Lake Street. I have friends who are protesting. I have friends who are current police officers (and former police officers). I have friends in the National Guard.
And when I am looking at all of the memes and tweets and videos the only thing I can say is...
I gotta work on me. I gotta work on ME.
I see a video of a police officer shooting a canister of tear gas directly in the face of a journalist. I am not a police officer. I do not have a tear gas cannon.
I see a video of someone setting a fire or throwing some rocks through some windows. I am not going to pick up a rock and throw it through a window. I am not going to light a fire.
So what am I doing?
I'm getting down to basics, and going through a series of YouTube videos about structural racism. I hear people talking about structural (or systemic) racism. I don't understand it.
So far the only things I think I know about structural racism, I have gleaned from watching clips of talking heads and a handful of memes. This is not enough. So I am trying to learn, and I'm specifically trying to learn from college classes streamed online. I'm trying to learn from the folks defining the terms, because I think if I'm going to be part of the conversation I need to understand the words that are being used in context.
I'm also getting down to basics. I'm seeking out sermons and articles and books by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I see a lot of memes of MLK, and images of MLK, and quotes from MLK. But when I started getting interested in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about a decade ago, I primarily listened to his sermons. And they impacted me and my faith in a way that I am grateful for. So I am working on opening up my heart and learning from one of the greats.
I'm getting down to basics. I want to do something. I'd love to drive down and help out somehow but, you know, the baby (and the other six kids) make that difficult to figure out how to make that happen. I have a friend on Twitter, every day he goes out with his two kids and some brooms and helps sweep up the glass, and I'm kind of envious and wish I lived closer, so it would be easier to leave my home and help in a concrete way. But alas. So I am doing some research into charities, local charities and national ones. And I'm going to give, as I am able, without any expectations.
I see in my head a vision for what it means for a police officer to have peace with the community he is policing in. From where we stand here today? That peace, that peace seems so hard, so far away, it feels like it is almost going to have to be a peace that comes from God, that surpasses all understanding.
But that's the direction we gotta keep moving toward. Thanks for sticking with me and reading this whole thing.