DIARIO DI MAMMA
EDITORS NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories about what mothers can do to combat the hate and vitriol poisoning us. I’m writing these stories because I can’t sit around and wait for others to do my job anymore, and this is not the world I want for my son – or yours. Part 1 dealt with how moms can promote love.
The stench of death still hangs in the air. And blood is on all of our hands. We must repent. Tears are not enough, even if they mark the beginning of change. A Black Lives Matter protester recently held a sign that read, “I wept more than I slept las night.” I can’t keep crying like this. We can’t keep crying like this. Why are we all so afraid of one another?
“Una faccia, una razza,” which means, “One face, one race,” goes the Italian-Greek saying. It means loving your neighbor and being good to one another regardless of race, class, faith, sexuality, and all the rest of our differences. It means never judging a book by its cover. It means recognizing the fact that we all bleed when wounded. It means we all represent humanity, and together we’re greater than the individual. It means united we stand and divided we fall. It is the way I want to live my life with my community. It is what I want to teach my child. And I want our leaders – from the President of the United States to the mothers and fathers living next door – to believe that in the core of their soul and do everything they can to keep us together, especially during tumultuous, scary, and downright sad times like these.
Right now, I’m not so sure if I will see such unity in my lifetime. For a long time, I naively believed that growing up 20 or so years after the Civil Rights Movement that the worst was behind us. But, perhaps, the worst is what we’re in the midst of right now. I can’t imagine what could be worse than burying 7 innocents in one week. Since just after the July 4 holiday, we have been reeling, first from the senseless murders of two African-American men at the hands of police officers. Then, in Dallas, Texas, a lone gunman opened fire (from a sniper position) and killed five police officers and injured others, who were trying to protect the people of the city, the very people who were protesting the police shootings.
Thanks to phone videos and live streaming, there is no hiding from blatant racism and hate. It’s out there for all the world to see. It’s not okay for someone, who is complying with police, to get shot at a routine traffic stop, nor is it okay to kill white police officers in retaliation. “Why kill the innocent? They’re not the ones who shot your loved one. …We don’t go gunning down the innocent. We are about peace,” said Gwen Carr, mom of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in July 2014, after the Dallas tragedy. We can’t stand for that in our country. I am a mother. I protect life, not destroy it. I am mourning with Carr and all the mothers who have lost their babies. That’s why moms have to start making change at home. I will begin by not standing for murder by police or of police and by recognizing that we’re a long, long way from equality still.
There is no denying we all have innate bias of which we might not be aware. But we break down those walls when…
- We embrace each other. Don’t worry if your’e not the touchy-feely type. You don’t have to literally hug the guy on the subway next to you. However, you should welcome opportunities to communicate with those who are different from you, to learn about different cultures and stances on a variety of topics. You must keep an open mind. Be all right with agreeing to disagree when appropriate. But don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you from connecting with other human beings.
- We try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. You may never really know what someone else’s reality is, but you can try to understand. Just imagine how powerful it would be if each of us took a moment to think about how the person next to us lives, what their day-to-day is like. How would have things turned out differently if that police officer knew how beloved Philando Castile was and what a difference he made in the lives of the children at the school where he worked? How would have things turned out differently had those police officers known about Alton Sterling’s son, who seemed lost and inconsolable at the loss of his father? How amazing would it be if police officers tried to understand how drug addicts and thieves ended up in these desperate situations and lives of crime? Wouldn’t it be lovely if all of us paid attention to the danger law enforcement puts itself into every single day to protect and serve us? Wouldn’t it be special if we all recognized that those Dallas police officers threw themselves in front of protestors and into the line of fire even though they may have disagreed with what they were saying? What a difference it would make if we all thought about someone other than ourselves.
- We value life. Since I experienced a miscarriage and then delivered my son nearly five years ago, I have mourned every single time a mother has lost her child for whatever reason. Often it has been as a result of senseless gun violence, whether a police officer committed the act or was him or herself the victim of it. I don’t care if that child is 8 weeks in the womb or 61 with grandchildren of his or her own. That is your baby. No one should have to bury their baby. Realize that life is a gift. It’s precious. Black lives indeed do matter. And so do those of the LGBT community, who were dancing at a nightclub, and the sweet little ones attending school, and the police officers doing their jobs and all the others who seem to have died far too soon for no reason at all. When you truly value life, you aren’t so quick to take one.
- We push for peace. Since 9/11, I have heard our politicians saying we are fighting wars overseas, so we don’t have to fight them here. Well, guess what? There’s a civil war happening at home. If you haven’t noticed there have been mass shootings, police murdering black people, and now the assassination of good cops. We must quit living in a game of Mortal Kombat and start protecting life and helping peace and love win the day by living that goodness every single moment. We must teach our kids that violence isn’t the answer. Not ever.
- We vote our convictions. Use your vote to demand the change you see fit to end the racism and gun violence. Know the differences between the candidates and choose the one who will unite us and stop this insanity. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. It’s your greatest superpower in this moment in history.
- We unite. After Orlando, I saw many signs on social media and elsewhere about “praying for Orlando” and now I’ve seen the same to “pray for Dallas.” We need to pray for all Americans and the world. We are in a heap of trouble right now. We need each other. We have to quit putting ourselves in silos. Stop thinking of Sterling and Castile as black men. They are men. Stop thinking of those police officers as cops. They are men and women. Stop thinking of your Muslim neighbor as a Muslim. He is a human being just like you. You don’t want to hold hands and sing, “We shall overcome”? That’s all right. Just be kind and treat everyone with the respect you would like bestowed upon you.