I spent last night sitting in my living room, my heart filling up with grief.
It sorta felt like that all week, honestly. Terrible things keep happening out there, and I feel completely powerless to stop them.
I’ve never had to deal with fear of the police. Sure, I get anxious when a cop is driving behind me, and one time in high school an off-duty officer in an unmarked car chased me across town at midnight, but I’ve never believed the police were just searching for a reason to pull me over or that there was much of a chance I would die if I didn’t do exactly what they said. I’m a straight white male (or “the lowest difficulty setting,” according to author John Scalzi), and that stuff just doesn’t usually happen to guys with my skin tone.
The fact that I can qualify that statement with a snarky reference to my pasty-pale skin is kind of sickening. No one should have to worry about being shot by a cop just because their taillight is out. No one should have to explain to their kids that you have to behave absolutely perfectly when interacting with a cop to avoid being killed, and even then you may still get shot.
And none of that is to say that cops deserve to get shot, either. My uncle was a cop in Tulsa for years. He’s a big, gruff-sounding teddy bear of a guy. He looks and sounds imposing as hell, and he once took out a chainlink fence with a guy who was resisting arrest (or so the story goes), but he also tries to break up fights between teenagers (he’s in his 70s now) to help prevent bad things from happening.
I’m an empathetic person. Watching people be upset upsets me. Other people crying will switch on my waterworks in a trice. And this morning, as I go about my usual business, there’s a part of me that just wants to curl up and mourn.
Featured image (C) 2016 Ting Shen.