Hello, I'm Jolinda Stephens, the Coordinator for UU Voices for Justice. Yesterday I posted a very personal story that the horror of Ferguson brings up for me. It brings many fears and angers, but this one is core. A colleague asked if I could blog it. My first answer was "no." The only blog I have right now is professional, UU Voices. Yet, one of our goals is to gather our stories and many stories are painful and deeply personal. So here is the first blog post, modeling the sharing I hope we will inspire. All of this sacred work comes from deep within us. Let's share it.
Having a hard time sleeping these days. Images like this and the one of Michael Brown lying in the street keep me up and angry. They keep me remembering.
I have two daughters; one is European American. This story is about my African American daughter. As clearly as I remember the euphoria that washed through me as I gave birth to her just as the sun rose over the Cascades, I remember the relief I felt to know that I would be raising a Black girl, not a Black boy. The chances were very good that she would not be gunned down in the street and left to die like a dog.
And yet, she was barely 8 months old on a cold February morning when a cop pulled over her dad into a Seattle U parking lot. With about a dozen rifles aimed at him he was ordered to take our daughter from the car and place her on the roof of the car. A dozen rifles aimed at that precious bundle for a long time. She was searched and left on the roof of the car. It was a case of mistaken identity. Supposedly my husband looked like someone they were looking for. Later, her first sentences were, "Watch out, daddy. A cop." She would point down the road to a speck that couldn't even be identified as a car yet.
I wasn't in the car when this happened and yet with the connection mothers have with their children that makes assaults on our children assaults on us, I react viscerally to tanks and machine guns aimed at children, to a child gunned down in the street. I remember. And I have a hard time understanding the coverage, even in the liberal media, that makes all this seem normal. I have a hard time understanding how most of America says how terrible it is and then goes about its business, essentially unaffected.
I wonder what we can do here, to make our police departments accountable and beyond that end the idea that the lives of some people don't matter.