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In My Own Words

The Other Pandemic

It’s been tough, hasn’t it? Every time you leave the house you have to worry about making it back to your family safely. Every interaction you have, every store you visit, everything you do you feel like it is a potential threat to your well being.

Oh. Sorry.

 Did you think I was talking about COVID-19? 

Welcome to being black in America.

Of course, this is coming from a heterosexual, white, Christian woman who grew up in the suburbs and has never had to face the bias and hate that so many others have. However, I believe racism is a pandemic that has plagued our country for centuries, and yet goes unnoticed by most.

PictureI grew up in Mt. Lebanon, an upper middle class neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh. In high school, my brother’s best friend was an awesome guy named Jason. (I am happy to say they are still friends to this day.) Jason was one of only a few African-American students in their class. One evening, my brother and Jason pulled up to the library to drop off books in the drop box. A police officer pulled and asked what Jason was doing. Returning books while black.

Fast forward 10 years. Jason and my husband were teaching a computer literacy class in a housing development in Pittsburgh. As they were leaving, my husband at the wheel of his Dodge Ram pickup truck, the pair was pulled over. They said they appeared suspicious. Riding in the passenger seat while black.

I would love to believe that the world was becoming a safer, more loving place for people of all races and religions. However, even after a black president successfully led our country, nothing has changed. In fact, we have moved backwards. Racists are rampant in this country, and our leader calls these subhumans “very fine people.” How can we hope for progress with a president who encourages it?

Today my kids, my father, my best friend, myself and many others ran 2.23 miles on the birthday of Ahmaud Arbrey, who was shot and killed in cold blood while running in Georgia. People are outraged right now, as they should be. The problem is, outrage doesn’t change a damn thing. 

Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Antwon Rose. Oscar Grant. Botham Jean. Greg Gunn. Eric Garner.

This list is a lot like another.

 Emmitt Till. Lamar Smith. George Lee. Willie Edwards. Medgar Evans. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The people pulling the trigger need be held accountable every time. Also, those who make these hate crimes possible need to be held accountable. It should not take the public release of a video for law enforcement to take this murder seriously.

I would love to be able to tie up this entry with a simple answer. The only one I have, though, is that we all speak up when we see hate and injustice; that we continue to speak the names of the victims; that we refuse to accept this as normal, because it is not.