At a recent gathering with friends, there was an empty chair between two groupings. On the left, the seven old folks–my age. On the right, six representing the “younger generation.” I turned the chair towards the latter, sat down, and made a quasi-joke about preferring the perspective of youth.
Only moments later, now behind me, the older folks began one of those conversations that just gets my blood to boiling. I first tuned in as they were laughing that the “Indian” was removed from the butter box. Next, Aunt Jemima is a goner. Then, the Redskins name change came up, all meant in good fun, but, I knew, and know, not fun… And then, George Floyd. And, “He had a rap sheet as long as his arm.” “Why are we making him a hero?” “He even had the American flag over his casket.” (Was he not an American?) Then, “The media blows everything out of proportion.” Every comment you could imagine diverting from the truth, but not a single one speaking specifically to the issues that reignited massive protests. Not one of them spoke of a senseless murder, the abuse of power, or our unjust system. Just a lot of mob-like ignorance and failure to see. It was a great example of the type of mentality that consistently contributes to the never ending wrongful deaths and the denial of justice to so many. It was disheartening, at the very least. Before I removed myself and went inside–feeling weak for a confrontation at my friend’s house–one of the more wise young women in “my” group looked at me and said:
“Looks like you chose the right circle.” Indeed I did.
Her boyfriend then agreed and talked about one of his own moments of enlightenment days before watching on YouTube–a montage linking together many murders of unarmed, non threatening black people at the hands of oppressors. He was moved and it was beautiful to hear him share it with us.
A while later, one of my friends who had participated in the bullshit, sought me out to apologize for having offended me, and to have a conversation. I thought her doing so was brave and hopeful. I told her it wasn’t about me, but all of us doing a better job at understanding this incredible blight, and finding the courage to help change the conversation.