Black Lives Matter

Yesterday, after the announcement that the grand jury in the Eric Garner homicide case decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Garner, a friend of mine shared this on Facebook:

Her daughter, a third grader with Jack, drew it.

Jack and Oliver are drawing pictures of butts and light sabers. Their big concerns are the shape of the pasta I'll cook for dinner and whose turn it is to do the advent calendar. No, I haven't told them about Ferguson or Staten Island, I've kept from them all the school shootings and other general societal shittiness, but I can choose to safeguard them from that information. I can choose to keep them a bit younger for a bit longer.

I am extremely pissed off and heartbroken that my friend's daughter has to process all this. She and her brother are growing up black in America, and this is what they're drawing on a Wednesday afternoon. What heavy burdens for young souls. To be black and write out, "Black Lives MATTER!!!" I cannot fathom what that must feel like, but I know it must hurt and pound and ache and confuse. It must enrage and sadden. It must do so many things.

My friend was stunned and saddened too and sat down with her kids to talk. They had many questions, which were "naive but perceptive" in my friend's words.

"Pres. Obama is African American. Why is he allowing this to happen?"

"Why do they need to do an investigation when there's a video tape of the whole thing?"

"Would this have happened if Eric Garner were white?

"When is it ok for a policeman to kill somebody? Does the person have to threaten the officer first?"

"Is it legal to choke a guy just because he's selling cigarettes? Even if the guy did something really steal something or do drugs...isn't there another way to punish him? Isn't that why we have jail?"

"Isn't there a way for the police man to shoot but not kill a person? Can't they shoot to scare a guy? Or shoot to stop a guy in his tracks?"

"Does protesting ever work?"

Truly, y'all, I am just speechless. I don't know what to do with this sort of injustice. The Garner case seems infinitely more clear cut to me than Ferguson. A man is choked to death ON VIDEO and there is no indictment?

What message is this sending to all of us? It doesn't suggest to me that black lives matter. Not all of them, at least. Not to certain people.

I have sought advice and think I am right in not telling my kids about these events. And part of me feels extremely let off the hook by that because not all parents get that same freedom. I would be so ashamed to tell the boys that one man killed another for no good reason at all and didn't even lose his job.

This is so bleak.