Every Good Morning

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It comes down to bodies.

black bodies 1A black body, usually a man, dead on some forsaken street. A blue body, often white, holding the gun that put him there.

Wait.

A blue body, white or black, dead on some forsaken street. The killers, all colors, dead themselves or gone.

Wait.

I have been sickened by the violence used by some police officers and departments. I have been sickened by the murder of police officers.

Wait.

My father was a police officer for 36 years. He witnessed corruption and brutality within his own force. He also drew on his uniform every day and walked out into places where that color made him a first target. He knew men who came as guests to our home whose courage and decency were marrow deep.

Wait.

black bodies 3I have listened to a black mother speak of her fear for her 17 year old son should he be stopped by police. I have taught innocent black kids who have been bruised by the white world.

Wait.

I have seen police run towards gunshots and fire. I have seen them place their bodies in harm’s way. I have heard those stories and looked into the human eyes of those who told them.

Wait.

For years while I taught the reputation of one local township’s police force among teenagers, white and black, was one of swaggering machismo, a cold display of power, a history of humiliations meted out simply because they could do so.

Wait.

Some of the teenagers I taught, white and black, did violence to others. A few committed murder.

Wait.

We are besieged by false choices pushed out into our hearing by craven and expedient politicians, by a malignant television network and grotesque personalities, by activists of left and right who shout “US … THEM,” “ANGEL … DEVIL,” “VIRTUE … VICE.” They all wish us to scorn complexity. They all wish us to choose blindness over sight.

Must I choose between my father and children I taught? Must I choose between blue or black? Who says such things?

Wait.

black bodies 2Life comes down to good training. It comes down to paying for good men and women.

Life comes down to jobs and better schools. It comes down to freedom from fear.

Life comes down to restraint in the use of power. It comes down to defusing, not attacking.

Life comes down to embracing hope, not chaos. It comes down to persuasion, not shouting.

Life comes down to recognizing the soul within the body. It comes down to bodies.

© Mike Wall

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