PROLOGUE PART 2:
It feels like the cries for "Mama" in Minneapolis were months ago, and yet it's only been two weeks since I published the first part of this. So much HAS happened, but it's still not enough, we need to continue speaking up and doing more. We must do better. I'll be honest, I've had some of the hardest conversations of my life just in the past couple of weeks, and each seems to top the last. They were necessary - standing up is necessary, it is right. I can't believe an amazing 18 year old Black woman, Na'Kia Crawford, was gunned down here in Akron by a white man (yet to be confirmed) the other day, and there are photos of the car and yet it just vanished. I can't believe that they haven't arrested the officers in Breonna Taylor's murder. There are too many other "I can't believes" but that again shows my ignorance, that I can't believe it.
If you didn't read Part 1 or the full version, this is the part you MUST READ, and even if you did read it, I beg of you to READ IT AGAIN. This is the one where I could have lost my husband, he could have been killed, by police. Blair could be dead. (I had to reread that last sentence about twenty times, because while I've thought that because of this story, seeing it made it ever more real). He could have been murdered and I could have been standing there, hopefully screaming, trying to stop it and definitely recording it. But would that have changed anything?
More must be done.
2 – SNOWY TETRIS
Almost 4 years ago, just after Christmas, Trump had just been elected but not yet inaugurated. Blair was driving us home from his friend’s house in Mentor. We were passing through the neighborhood of Kirtland Hills. It was a snowy night and I was distracting myself from being worried about the state of the roads by playing Tetris on my phone. Then the red lights came behind us. I asked Blair if he was speeding, which was kind of funny because I’m always the one speeding. He of course said “No”. The police officer approached our car. I forget what the latest racial injustice was (sad I know) but I knew to have my camera open if I needed to start recording. I don’t recall if he asked if Blair knew why he was pulled over, but he said that Blair drove past a stop sign, without stopping. As I was busy playing on my phone I had no idea if he ran a stop sign. Blair said he didn’t see it and that he wasn’t from this area. The police officer asked “Is this really your car?” It was 100% said in an accusatory way, like it couldn’t be his car. Mind you we weren’t rolling in a Benz or something, it was a Honda Accord – at the time it was pretty new. The officer then asked where he was from, Blair and I both replied “Bath,” though we weren’t sure if the officer knew our little township, the officer suddenly said “Oh” in a way that seemed to change things. He then asked for proof, so Blair handed over his ID, and the officer said “Is this really where you live?” This is when I finally leaned over Blair as the flashlight had only been shining down on him and the officer couldn’t see me, his white wife, and I nicely asked “if he knew that area?” The officer took Blair’s ID back to his car and came back and told us to get home or something like that. We were in disbelief, if he ran a stop sign he would have definitely received a ticket. We didn’t talk much on the ride home, but we did question if a stop sign was really there, but we didn’t want to turn around and check, we needed to get out of there. Not only did Blair not get a ticket, but he still had his life. I often question what would have happened if we weren’t from a “fancy” suburb or if I, his white wife, wasn’t in the car. That party was an annual event, we drove the same path every year, there was no stop sign. Do I have to say it? This is racist.
What you hear about…
This was the first time that something so blatantly racist and by a police officer no less had really happened to me – no it happened to Blair with me being there. (This certainly was not Blair’s first rodeo) Up until this experience I had only heard about “Driving while Black” and far worse on the news. I had heard about “the talk” that Black parents give to their Black kids, especially Black boys, but I had never eye-witnessed why it was so vital. This was not my reality. I wanted to shout it from the roof tops, and I’ve told people in various conversations, but I could have done more.
PART 2 - What you can do...
- One of my closest friend’s parents wouldn’t come to our wedding because I was marrying a Black man. I didn’t know it at the time and cried when I got their RSVP “No”, as they had been like parents to me. Eventually the father got to know Blair through parties, etc. and is now always nice to him. This is racist. But don’t give up on people, show them love, teach them acceptance.
- Rifle Paper Co. makes an adorable “Birthday Girl” card with a white girl in sunglasses and they followed it up with a Black girl in a flower crown. I refused to have both cards displayed at the same time, so customers couldn’t choose one over the other. One time a customer asked me, when holding up the flower crown version “Does it matter that she’s Black?” That is racist. I truly couldn’t believe I was asked that. “No” was all I could say. She ended up buying it and left. But after, all I could think of, was how I should have walked her over to my wedding photo on the nearby shelf and then ask her to repeat herself. I’m ashamed the number of times I bit my tongue as a shop owner because I didn’t want to start anything and hurt my shop’s reputation. But at the time I did what I thought I could by offering more diverse products for all races and sexual orientations.
PS You're going to make mistakes, I'm going to make mistakes, it's OK - it's better to try!