We need to talk.
We need to talk about #Race and #Racism in America. My Twitter feed is on fire over #RoxburyShooting. Please do not turn the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston into another #Ferguson. I see so many tweets that are attempting to do just that on both sides of the battle.
Let’s not lose sight of these truths.
Truth # 1 – A hero #Boston police officer, who was honored for his bravery in the Watertown shootout following the Boston Marathon bombing, is fighting for his life at Boston Medical Center. Remember how much we lauded his actions that night before he is automatically vilified.
Truth # 2 – A family is in shock and mourning the loss of their son, brother, cousin, nephew. #AllLivesMatter even if he was a career criminal, street thug, whatever labels you want to apply to him, his life mattered. Someone who loved him is crying because of choices he made and how his life ended.
Truth # 3 – To let a family member rush to his body would impede the forensic investigation and contaminate the crime scene. #ColdHardFacts
Truth 4 – It is understandable that family members would want to rush to a loved one’s side. #WeCanDoBetter by removing a body from a crime scene more quickly. Five hours is too long for a body to lie on the pavement. Take the pictures, draw the chalk lines and transport the deceased to the coroner’s and let the family see their loved one.
Truth 5 – Don’t say it couldn’t happen in Boston. Boston has a history of #Racism and #RacialProfiling. Let’s not forget Charles Stuart, Alan Swanson, and William “Willie” Bennett, just to name a few.
Truth 6 – The Boston Police Department has changed significantly since the days when Charles Stuart falsely accused a mysterious black man of shooting him and his pregnant wife. An accusation, which created a climate for a hyper-vigilant BPD to harass the men of the black community for months following the murder of Carol Stuart (at the hands of her own husband). #KeepingItReal
Truth 7 – Not all cops are bad; there are more good cops than bad. Not all black men are criminals or street thugs; there are more good black men than bad. Live as #DrKing dreamed that all people would be judged by the content of their character. #ThereIsGoodAndBadInEveryGroup
Truth 8 – Violent crimes in inner city neighborhoods are not just a #BlackProblem.
Truth 9 – Just because we elected a #BlackPresident twice does not mean racism is dead in America. It seems to me that President Obama’s election has brought out the covert racism that has been simmering beneath the surface in America since the 1970s. And just because President Obama is the son of a black man and white woman he does not have the magic wand that will eradicate all racism in America.
Truth 10 – There needs to be an ongoing dialogue about race and racism in America. President Obama called for a national dialogue on race following the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer. It still hasn’t happened. Recently we witnessed Starbucks’ epic fail to promote discussions on race by having their baristas write Race Together on all their customers’ cups and promote the hashtag #RaceTogether. I’m not going to claim to understand Starbucks’ motivation for the Race Together campaign. I do, however, believe that Starbucks’ point that we need to discuss race and racism is valid and I agree that all individuals should have a voice in the discussion even 20 something year old baristas. People need to feel comfortable about talking about race and racism and you do not have to be an expert in race relations to participate in the discussion; all you have to be is someone who has a willingness to share your experiences with race and racism in America and an even greater willingness to listen and learn from someone whose experiences around race and racism in America are different than your own for a variety of reasons including the color of their skin, their gender, their age or the zip code they happened to be born in.
So America, please talk amongst yourselves and keep it respectful. Do not try to turn the Bury into another Ferguson. Although I have never lived in Roxbury, I have lived in neighboring Mattapan and Dorchester, I have worshipped in Roxbury, I have worked in Roxbury and I have spent countless hours as a volunteer mentoring and tutoring the children of Roxbury. Roxbury is one of the many places I call home. So America with all due respect, I ask you to not turn Roxbury into another #Ferguson because it fits your agenda, no matter what that agenda might be.