Earlier tonight a friend of mine posted this on Facebook. Her name is Michele, her husband is a New York City police officer, and she allowed me to run her words here—sans her last name.
I never post stuff like this. I think Facebook is for pictures of cute kids and cuddly puppies. But this one hits close to home and I can’t sleep for obvious reasons so I thought I’d offer my own perspective.
You may not know my husband, but you probably know me enough to know the type of man I would marry. In case you don’t, he is a kind, gentle man who lives simply and simply lives for his wife and children.
This man, like his wife, does not have a racist bone in his body. This man also happens to be a New York City police officer. A man who took the job because he truly wanted to help people and make a difference, and hey a decent pension after 20 years and retiring at age 43 didn’t seem too shabby either.
This man who just texted his wife that he had no idea what time he would be able to get home tonight. His wife who sits alone on the couch watching coverage of rocks and bottles being thrown at police officers and cop cars being lit on fire. His wife who can’t sleep in an empty bed so she goes online and reads of growing crowds and chants of Fuck the police! marching closer and closer to where her husband is stationed as her two 18-month olds sleep down the hall.
This man who is being put in harm’s way because of something someone else did 1,000 miles away, or even one mile away. Someone else who just happens to have the same profession as he does.
This man who may not be judged by the color of his skin, but is certainly judged by the uniform he wears.
Stop and think for a minute about what you think of police officers. Does a stereotype immediately come to mind? Uneducated? A bully? Unsophisticated? Power hungry? Gun happy? Provincial? Misogynistic? I never tire of the look of shock on people’s faces after they learn my husband is a cop. This man who has just been talking to them about Tolstoy and the thesis he wrote on the Revolutionary War. This man who has stamps on his passport from India, the Galapagos Islands, and countless European countries. This man who took Latin classes in his thirties just because he had a desire to learn. This man who does silly dances for his daughters because he loves to see them laugh. This man who tells his wife every day how much he appreciates her. Every day. This man who doesn’t bring his gun home because he doesn’t feel the need to and his wife doesn’t like it.
I don’t pretend for a second to understand the hurt, injustice, and indignation of being poor and black in America, or even rich and black for that matter. Just as I don’t pretend to understand what it must be like to go to work everyday and have to make split-second decisions that are literally life and death.
What I can understand is what it is to be human. To feel. To feel angry at an injustice. To feel afraid of losing someone. To feel sadness at a situation that we wish didn’t exist. Underneath the color of our skin or the uniform we may wear we are all human. We all feel the same things.
Shouldn’t that be enough to understand each other?