Those who know me, know I prefer amplifying other people’s actions and voices over my own. I just don’t like self-disclosure very much. But I just read this post from Luvvie Ajayi, and when I got to Be a witness, I remembered about Saturday morning. And I remembered the adrenalin and then the relief I felt. So, in the interest of encouraging more people to take an ACTIVE part in making our world better for ALL of us, I’m sharing this 15 minutes from last weekend.
Last Saturday morning, as I pulled into a Cedar Grove grocery store parking lot to buy vegetables and rice cakes, I saw the blue and red flashing lights of police cars at the parking lot entrance. The Black man in the front driver’s seat was calm. The police officers were calm. But I still chose a parking spot in the back, closer to the pulled over car.
For a second, I almost passed it by. My inner voice asked, “Who did I think I was? What kind of self-inflated hubris was driving my choice to Be A Witness to this more-than-likely-routine-but-maybe-not interaction?”
Sitting in my car, facing the interaction, I held my phone with the camera set to video and watched. And waited. I watched as the driver put his backpack into the trunk. I watched as he was handcuffed. All parties seemed amiable, if not friendly. Still, I watched as he was searched, pockets emptied, and helped into the back seat of one of the police SUVs. And I watched as one of the officers got into the Black man’s car and parked it carefully in the parking lot a few spaces away. The officer then locked the car, checked all four doors, and nodded to the man sitting, cuffed, in the backseat. Only after the Police SUV had pulled away, passenger and all, and driven off did I get out of the car and grab a shopping cart to continue on my suburban way.
Was watching the arrest a waste of time? Was my rushing through shopping to make it back in time to pick up my kid from art class worth it? No, and definitely yes. It wasn’t a waste of time because it kept me conscious. And, in this case, I was witness to an appropriate, respectful interaction between police and a Black man. It wasn’t a waste of time because we don’t always know that someone has our back, but it’s important that we all have someone else’s. It is worth it because acknowledging that Black Lives Matter is the first step to truly being able to claim that All Lives Matter. And I want that. I really, really want that.
It’s also important because I have an obligation in this society. Just like you do. And not being directly impacted by a particular injustice doesn’t excuse me from working to encourage and demand justice. Just like it doesn’t excuse you.
Here’s another chance to read Luvvie Ajayi’s post: Another Day, Another Hashtag. White People, You Gotta Get to Work NOW
And oh, yeah. If you’re still confused about the difference between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, read President Obama’s take, or maybe this gentle guide. Or if you like visuals, how about this nice cartoon?