For so long I remained silent ... Silenced by the what ifs and maybes. Silenced and removed. Unfazed by the tragedies that I ignorantly thought could have been prevented. Defending the actions of police officers that I incorrectly assumed feared for their life.
Sadly it took this. It took a tragic, unjustified event in a beautiful city where I spent four of my happiest years. In a city where my brother and cousins who have brown skin reside. It took me seeing the son of Mr. Alton Sterling screaming, "I want my daddy." It took me seeing the sweet face of Diamond Reynolds who witnessed her father murdered by the very people that she was taught to trust.
And like a ton of bricks reality sets in... The what ifs, maybes, and thoughts of prevention lies that I told myself to ease the heartbreak of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice die, and I am faced with reality. A reality that is almost too much to take.
I've lived in a world where I've chosen to accept everyone regardless of skin color, socioeconomic status, education, religion, or sexual orientation. I've been blinded by hope. Hope that we live in a post-racial society. One that treats everyone equally. But today... Today I see color. It is our differences, not our similarities that are beautiful and work together for good. Yet every time I turn on the television our differences are the very thing that are being silenced.
And I find myself at 4AM with tears rolling down my face, as others sleep peacefully, blissfully ignorant of what having brown skin truly means. For so long I was that person. Wishing for better. Hoping that the words of the people in my community were words of bitterness from the past. Today that person died and was awakened to a harsh truth. The truth that what I thought was the past is actually the present.
It is now 5AM, and I lie awake ... Thoughts racing. Thoughts of fear and thoughts of unrestrained anger. I want to pray. I want to pray that my family members are safe and that this is what it will take to finally wake up a complacent society that has chosen to ignore the plight of a hurting people... But sadly the hope that I once had has completely diminished. I know that the ratio of good cops to bad cops is favorable to the good police officers. I am incredibly thankful to those who protect and serve us, but how are we to know the difference? How does a traffic stop for a busted taillight end in murder?
Not twenty-four hours after I watched the murder of a man shot at point blank range, I watched yet another man lose his life as his girlfriend and daughter looked on helplessly. With Mr. Sterling, the police screamed, "Get down" after they had already shot him four times. With Mr. Castille, a police officer kept his gun pointed, while Philander Castille's blood was draining from his body, unwilling to help.
These are the images that I can't unsee... These are the videos replaying incessantly in my head. It took this for the blinders to fall. I feel that I have failed for not speaking up sooner ... For not finding a way to pursue change. But here I am - 100% committed to the cause. 100% committed to my community. We will not be silenced. I will not be silent.