I had the pleasure this afternoon of having lunch with my Dear Brother. In fact, we make it a weekly plan to meet, share a meal, talk about current events, and, check in on each other.
Today, however, was different. Given the events of recent days with the murders of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, and the senseless murders of five Dallas police officers, I was especially looking forward to talking with my Dear Brother. I needed guidance, advice, support, a rational and objective point-of-view, to help me to sort out what I had been thinking and feeling all week. Not to mention, the lunch gave me a much-needed break from social media, on which I spend much too time for my emotional well-being.
I think for the first time, I am frightened in a way I have not been before. And, I am afraid that the events of this week are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Yes, things can, and most likely will, get worse, much worse. My Dear Brother reminded me that the Republican Convention has yet to take place, and, will most likely unleash lots of ugliness, in a city – Cleveland – that isn’t exactly a model of racial harmony and model community policing.
I am the quintessential Civil Rights/Voting Rights/Affirmative Action/Black is Beautiful Baby. I was born in 1965, during a very turbulent decade, but one which held immense hope and promise for Black Americans. For the first time since Reconstruction, Black Americans had gained full access via integration to opportunities for a better life. I grew up believing in that hope and promise. I am a direct beneficiary of the blood, sweat and tears of countess Civil Rights freedom fighters. As a result, I have had a very good life.
However, given the murders of an ever-increasing number of African American men, women and children at the hands of police officers charged with protecting them, I am no longer feeling so hopeful. I have lost faith in a country and in a system which I believed strongly in, and, which lets me down every time I hear about the murder of yet another African American person. Not only do their deaths cause me despair, but also the knowledge that their murderers will not be vindicated only adds to it. What’s especially frightening to me is that these acts of murder don’t seem random, but rather are carefully orchestrated.
Following dinner with my Dear Brother, we brought food for my Dear Dad and Dear Mom, who are 83 and 80, respectively. As we sat at the dinner table, talking about the latest murder in Houston, I asked them the following: “Do you remember a time in the United States that was as bad as these times are today?” They both said not since the 1960s. As Depression-Era, Jim Crow-Era folks – Dear Mom and Dear Dad were born and raised in South Carolina – the struggle and sacrifice they endured really didn’t resolve anything.
In the meantime, I am trying to hold on. I fear there are darker days ahead.