No Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #98: No Words

This week’s focus is inspired by the events unfolding in the news, but is not limited in its scope. There is much in life that leaves us speechless – both tragic and awe-inspiring. This week, think about the moments that leave you searching for words. Responses can be written, photographic, artistic, or musical.

~~~

The evening national news had just concluded. The entire broadcast consisted of live coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests happening around the country. Reporters conducted interviews with protestors, political figures and children struggling to understand what was happening.

The interviews that stood out for me the most were with African American mothers and fathers. I saw such profound fear in their eyes. Longstanding fear for their children’s safety – especially their sons – both young and grown. They voiced long held terrors…Will their sons return home for supper unharmed? Will they return after a run? Will they return at all? Or will they be targeted by a white member of the community or by the police just because they are black. Look what happened to George Floyd. And so many others – both male and female – like him.

Goodbye and be careful son…takes on a whole new urgency.

I turned off the TV and asked my husband:

What would it have been like if we had needed to worry about our son’s safety every time he left the house…because of the color of his skin? When he left to ride his bike. When we left him off to play basketball. Or baseball. When he drove the car to his friend’s house. Or to the mall to go shopping at Christmas. What if he got stopped in the car…or out in public…for any reason at all? What if?…

Because we did worry about his safety. About what we thought were the “usual” parental concerns. Accidents. Behavior. Illness. Choices.

But due to our privilege as white Americans, we didn’t – and we don’t – experience the searing ongoing daily unimaginable life and death worry about safety that African American parents have always lived with.

What would it have been like?

What would it still be like…?

My mind screeches to a halt. My eyes fill with tears.

I have no words.

waiting for bus 1996

32 thoughts on “No Words

  1. It is horrible that living in 2020, anyone should have to worry about safety based on race, from strangers, from trusted professionals…we always teach our children you can go to the police if you feel unsafe…no words…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, OLU. Realizing the truth about the relationship between skin color and privilege is the beginning of changing that equation. Speaking and writing about it is, too. Thanks for your brave statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow Andrea, this is so well articulated. The recent tragedies have been a clearer, more powerful eye-opener about the African American experience…heartbreaking. As a woman I’ve had issues common to many of us, but I don’t think I fully realized how fortunate I was to be White.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched the news tonight–the crowd in Seattle–and I’ll be lucky to just get comments answered tonight. No heart for writing poetry or reading blogs…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s compelling–I’ve not experienced anything like this since the Vietnam War protests. I feel deeply sad, but also frightened–there is so much anger seething amid the crowd of thousands in Seattle…they’re trying to get to the 16th Precinct building (police). I want to scream, “Stop! Everybody stop!” While I sympathize with the demands of the protesters–no one ever gets 100% of what they want…there has to be some compromise without feeling they’ve been further disrespected. I’m at my wits end–the pandemic seems to have been eclipsed…what if everybody in these crowds gets sick, then what? It’s Day 9, and they say they’re not leaving. Some communities have the good sense to stage smaller, more peaceable protests–rather than join the Seattle group. My faith is being stretched.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It is a scary thing to witness all that anger. But the anger comes from a real place in their hearts. And nobody has listened for so long. That’s how I see it – along with hope for change. I pray the protests remain peaceful. In most places they have been peaceful, thank goodness! I also hope the virus doesn’t spread more. Take care Leslie. Hang in there.

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      4. Well the one I was watching (Seattle) was going peacefully until about 7:30 pm when it went “sideways”. And I DO understand their anger, the frustration of not being heard for so long–I just don’t want any more deaths, for anyone. It just feels like “dry kindling”–the least spark could be deadly. Thanks you for your willingness to exchange comments about it with me. I want change, I want peace–and I want it all NOW, which is unrealistic.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Of course! We all need to talk about this. I also thought of the spark analogy. These moments seem like a perfect storm with everything happening these days. I held my breath for most of the day yesterday hoping peace would win out – for everyone – and especially the DC protest where my daughter was participating (with my grandson). Sorry to hear about Seattle. I hope today is better!

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      6. Oh gosh, your daughter and grandson were in the DC protest?! I’d be holding my breath too, Andrea–scary stuff, but educational for the youngster. I’ll step up my prayers for them, count on it!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes they were and they made it through safe and sound. Wearing masks and not going where the crowds were packed. A powerful experience for both of them.

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