My heart feels like it has been broken; again. Over the past few day, more Black men have been murdered by police officers, and 5 police officers were gunned down while doing their job. Every time the news comes on, we all hold our breath because we know there is something else. Last month, innocents were lost because of the actions of 1 who struggled to accept himself, while hating who he was. When will it stop? Will it stop?
My friend Jo-Anna made a statement yesterday that we need MLK again. I understand the heart in which her statement comes from but I also know that this is impossible; We do not need Martin to be resurrected because he is already resurrected in so many of us. As Representative John Lewis (a man who marched with Martin) led a sit-in on the House floor, we were seeing the resurrection. We, those of us who have compassion for others, and we who are passionate about a healed humanity; we are the resurrection of Martin. What we need is to invoke that passion and compassion and allow others to catch our spirit like a spark from a wild fire.
We saw it in Dallas. As gunshots rang out, a little boy was separated from his mother and another mother grabbed him to protect him. They found refuge in the apartment of a stranger, who opened their door up to allow strangers a safe place to remain until the calm. And as it turned out, the little boy who found refuge with strangers was separated from mom because she was the only civilian to be shot during the mass murder of police officers. Thankfully she survived and the little boy was reunited with his family. During a time of confusion and self preservation, a little boy found safety among strangers. Meanwhile in Dallas, McDonalds became a safe haven for those fleeing bullets and people were hiding behind counters and in back offices and the manager wasn’t worried about the money in the safe or the register, because the worry was for the people seeking refuge. I have seen images on the television screen of a police officer and a Black man standing side by side as the officer held a sign saying “Black Lives Matter” and the Black man held a sign that said “Blue Lives Matter” and though I am grateful for both, I am saddened that we need signs. I remain hopeful, despite the current situation of humanity, because on yesterday, hours after we saw Black men being gunned down by cops…on video, and just a few hours after a Black man gunned down police officers in Dallas; a police officer in Missouri pulled over my cousin for a traffic stop, and as she sat in her car, with her husband on the phone telling her he was on his way, the police officer grasped my cousins hand and comforted her. As she sat visibly shaken and crying out of fear for her life, he used his hands and heart instead of his taser and gun, and told her that he was scared too. And he comforted her. I am hopeful because in Camden, New Jersey, they fired their whole corrupt department, hired police officers that matched the demographics of their city and trained them in both weapons and compassion, and those officers use their hearts more than they use their weapons.
We don’t need Martin resurrected, we need to live up to the standard he set. We need to allow his principles to resound in our spirits and allow him to be resurrected in us. We don’t have to be Actors to be Activist. We don’t need to be Preachers to spread messages of love, hope, peace and compassion. All we need to do is open our mouths and allow our hearts to flow out. We need more Camdens and more officers like those who are speaking out against brutality instead of giving us excuses in an attempt to defend the Thin Blue Line.
We are living in a time when a Black man can be gunned down during a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and a Black woman can die in a jail cell for failure to use a blinker; and instead of the cause of death on the Death Certificate saying “Murder by Cop” it will say “Natural Causes” because it has become too “natural” for a police officer to gun us down like an animal in the street.
When my son John was 3 years old, 9/11 happened. I worked for the stock market and they closed the market that day and we all went home. I picked my little boy up from day care, and as he innocently played on the floor in our living room, I watched contrasting images on the television screen, and I looked at him with fear knowing that the world he would grow up in would be different than the world I grew up in. It broke my heart. I worried about acts of terror, not thinking about the fact that my tax dollars were supporting the real terror that would haunt him. I have 2 Black sons with nappy hair and the arrogance of every other 18 year old Black boy. My fear is not that they will die at the hands of a terrorist from Afghanistan or a member of IS, but by the hands of someone in a patrol car, whether it be a sworn officer or a wannabe officer utilizing the Stand Your Ground defense. I’m scared! BUT, I am more hopeful than fearful. I am hopeful because the good officers outweigh the bad ones. I am hopeful because my friend Lillie has breakfast with the residents that she has sworn to protect and she talks with them, and she listens to them. I am hopeful because my friend Zeldrina, shows compassion to the people that she has to arrest, and she is seeking to help those who are homeless in the community. I am hopeful because I still believe in the goodness of humanity, and as long I believe in that, there is still hope.
We had Martin, and now he is gone; but his spirit and his teachings still reside with us and inside of us. We don’t need Martin to return, we need to embrace the Martins that still live among us. We need to spread love and spread light and let it spread like a wild fire. We need to speak out…LOUD!! We need to educate ourselves and not let our ignorance define us but be redefined by knowledge. We need to stop believing everything we hear and investigate the truth for ourselves. The compassion that already exist in humanity is what we need to heal humanity. There is no secret, there is no magic formula. Everything we need already exist. We need to become contagious!
May the embers from our fire create a fire in the person standing next to us, and may that fire spread throughout all of humanity.
I remain hopeful.