Allies Aren’t Silent; Why Was I?

A political friend wrote on Facebook on New Year’s Eve, “If I’ve been too tough on a political opponent in the last ten years, I apologize to them now. If I haven’t been tough enough on them, I apologize to everyone else.”

I have not been tough enough in my own little world, and the decade just past taught me that tolerance of others’ intolerance does not create a larger space for tolerance, and silence in the face of ugliness does not illuminate a brighter path toward kindness for the ill-mannered who choose to walk the road of insults and abuse. I do not speak out enough, and this is an important failure on my part.

My latest example came just this week. I do not know what I would like to have done instead or how I would prefer to feel about the incident right now other than how I feel, which is that I am a mouse and not a human being with a spine and a voice. (Nothing against mice, of course.)
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#SandraBland: #SayHerName

One of my friends is driving cross-country with her son right now as I type this. He turned 18 last week and this trip from New York to Yellowstone Park is a last family hurrah before he ships off to college and the rest of his life in a month or so.

I know deep down that they will arrive out west, have a grand time, and enjoy the long drive home, that the experience will be spoken of fondly for years to come between mother and son. If she happens to be pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, that experience, too, will be merely one more tale in the fun collection of anecdotes: “Man, don’t even THINK about speeding in” (insert state name). And we her friends will enjoy the story.

My friend and her son are white, as am I. If she gets pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, the anecdote will not lead me to wonder these questions:

Why was she asked to get out of the car? Why was she arrested? Did the arresting officer have a body camera on his uniform? Was it functioning? Was the dash camera on the arresting officer’s vehicle turned on? If not, why not? Why is my friend, or her son, dead today?
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