Some people use this phrase ironically, as if to say, “I don’t have any dreams, my dreams are not my own, I don’t believe in dreams…” These folks are lost.
Other people use this phrase sincerely, as if all is good, fair, and just in the world. I don’t know if I believe them.
If you hear me say these words, I’m saying something very specific. My ancestors suffered fought and died so that I could have the life I’m living today. If I take their sacrifice for granted, if I do not acknowledge the price they paid, then the dream dies with them. Not only do I have a responsibility to live this life as best as I can, I must work to create a world where the dream endures.
That’s what today means to me.
The incessant questions from my daughter has kicked into gear. Yesterday she caught me short with this one;
“What’s a country?”
My mind automatically does something like this: Noun,
person, place, thing…
My mouth does this:
“It’s a place…defined by physical borders, politics and culture.”
She was silent.
I hope I didn’t break that particular train of thought. I hope I planted a seed instead. I’ve got to get better at this real quick.
The last time this happened (Trayvon Martin), there was the typical round of opinionating. The majority of which was noise rather than signal. I did find the conversations about The Talk engaging though. This time around (Jordan Davis), there’s more of the same noise making, but this fantastic post over on Jack & Jill Politics has provoked me in all the best ways.
First a clarification: the phrase The Talk refers to the conversation adults are supposed to have with black boys about How to Not Get Killed By the Police. (Which seems to be evolving into How to Not Get Killed by Any Random White Man. Did I say evolving, I mean eroding…)
Second, aside from the righteous rage that Anson Asaka levels at a culture that accepts these lynchings as The Way Things Are (Yes, he calls them lynchings and I agree.), I like his suggestion that openly armed black folks would be the end of Stand Your Ground in the state of Florida. I would go a step further and suggest that if black folks in the state of Florida were openly armed, vigilantes and nut-jobs would be less likely to shoot them.
Are those really our choices…prescriptive fear and vengeance? I never got The Talk. The adults around me never advised me to fear the police. It wasn’t until I ended up handcuffed in the backseat of a police car with a cop telling me that my life wasn’t worth a bullet that I fully understood that a cop could take my life whenever he pleased. Imagine walking around with that in your head everyday. Now imagine wondering if any random stranger on the street was capable of gunning you down. That’s what it must be like to live during Open Season. Or, to be a black man in Florida.
Then I wonder about my daughter. What will I teach her, and how will her life contradict those lessons. Honestly, I was so happy when I knew we were having a girl. This is the reason why.
“I can’t reach, I can’t reach. Push harder Papa!”
“What are you trying to reach?”