This is the day before Thanksgiving, and I can’t help thinking about the parents of slain children …whose Thanksgiving tables will be sprinkled with tears.
Some of us in this nation are wresting with the shooting death of LaQuan McDonald by a white police officer. I will not lift his name up; he seems not to deserve as much. The video released on LaQuan’s shooting has shaken me to my core. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/25/us/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-shooting-main/)
But I am resonating with the parents of LaQuan, as I have been resonating with the parents of all of the young, unarmed black people who have been shot and killed by police officers, mostly white, and who have not been held accountable.
I began mourning in earnest with these parents and family members when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. When Zimmerman was acquitted, I wept. Sybrina Fulton was a tower of grace and strength, but her heart as a mother had to have been in tatters. Mine was, and Trayvon was not my son.
With every death of black people by police officers, mostly white, where those officers have been let off, my tears have increased. I keep thinking of Rev. Martin Luther King’s sermon where he asked, “How long? Not long!” Dr. King said the arc of the universe was (is) long but it bends toward justice.
The arc is very, very long.
What is bothersome is that only the tears of some people seem to matter. The tears of the Parisians, in reaction to the terror attack, seem to matter, but the tears of the people in Beirut and Africa, where terrorist attacks also took place, the one in Beirut only the day before the Paris debacle, were not so covered.
It was like their tears…didn’t matter.
It seems that the tears of black and brown people really seem not to matter as much as do the tears of white people. It feels that way. A parent is a parent; a mother is a mother; a woman who carries a baby goes through the same painful labor no matter her race or ethnicity. Yet …only the tears of the white mothers, the white survivors of terror, seem to matter.
Is that the result of the dehumanization and criminalization of black and brown people? One woman on my Facebook page said it was natural that the coverage of the terror in Paris was as it has been because “those people are people with whom we share values.” Or some such …But her statement floored me. Isn’t the pain of human beings, all human beings, worthy of respect?
Today, the families of so many young black people are mourning, but I am not sure that their tears matter, and that is an issue.
What happens when nobody cares about your tears? Langston Hughes asked what happens to a dream, deferred? There are consequences. Painful and often explosive consequences.
A painful, candid observation