State of Emergency (3-min. read)

kids-1442924_1280.jpg

This is not what I planned to write and post this month.

I write about stretching and growing our minds and spirits. And my latest post – that kind of blog post – is sitting in my Drafts folder in WordPress, waiting for me to hit the Publish button.

But that draft feels irrelevant today. North Carolina’s Governor has declared a State of Emergency in Charlotte, North Carolina, my home for almost 20 years. So, I must write this post instead.

My husband and I come from families with legacies of deep faith, hard work, and love for others. We stand on the shoulders of our parents, grandparents, and many more we’ve known and never knew – people far from perfection, but good to the core.

We instill their legacies in our own children. We teach them about God’s love and using the gifts He’s given them to make a positive difference. About respect for themselves and others. About how to think critically and make good decisions. About having courage to pursue their dreams and to stand up for what’s right. About everyday heroes like educators and nurses and, yes, police officers who know and love the communities they serve.

That the world has all kinds of people – some who use their lives for good, and others who do not. And that a person’s zip code, race, and income have nothing to do with this fact.

But it doesn’t feel like we’re doing enough. Our lessons are starting to feel woefully inadequate.

Another African-American man has been killed by someone sworn to protect and serve us all. Two nights of protest followed – make that three nights, including tonight –, and understandably so. But Night #2 included looting – a deep disappointment for those of us who seek answers and justice peacefully.

Am I frustrated, angry and sad by the whole story? Yes. Am I just as frustrated, angry and sad by black-on-black crime, too? You bet.

But current events surrounding the death of Keith Lamont Scott trouble me in a particularly poignant way. Maybe because all of it is unfolding so close to home. Maybe because it follows a recent, similar incident in Tulsa after a long line of other similar incidents across the U.S.

Or, maybe because it all feels so random and just won’t seem to end. That those of us with brown or black skin are sitting ducks, subject to the same fate as others in the news. That others fear us simply and only because of our skin color. That any of us can be deemed dangerous in the blink of an eye – and, as a result, boldly snuffed out in broad daylight, on camera.

And that our deaths will be explained away. Rationalized. Justified. Taken for granted.

These moments are not America’s finest. They make me feel that I, my husband, my children and other loved ones are simply not as valued as much as my colleagues, neighbors, or friends of other races.

And, that, dear readers, is what second class citizenship feels like.

It’s why my father wore his U.S. Army uniform rather than civilian clothes when he traveled across the Mason-Dixon line in the 1950s.

It’s why my brother chose to live abroad as an expatriate for 20 years.

It’s why my husband wears a suit and tie even when others show up in business-casual attire.

It’s why folks of all backgrounds are protesting again tonight in Charlotte.

Because, imagine this:

You’re a law-abiding, respectful citizen. But life has shown you that others may quickly misjudge, mislabel and mistreat you because of how you look.

So, you walk on eggshells when leaving home each day. You police yourself while doing the little ordinary things of life to signal that you’re not a threat to others. Drive under the speed limit. Greet the salesperson while shopping. Keep your hands in plain sight when navigating crowds. And you pray for your family’s safety, trying not to worry especially about your husband and son.

It is not illogical or paranoid to feel this way in 2016 America. Until incidents like Charlotte, Tulsa and Cleveland end completely, quite frankly it’s hard to imagine feeling otherwise.

But I, for one, would sure like the option of doing so.

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “State of Emergency (3-min. read)

  1. Jermal A Quinn

    Karin. Thank you for sharing this. It is sad and scary that the times we live in are so fundamentally distorted. I am a law abiding citizen and a pretty nice guy but i fit the exact profile of men that have been murdered in the streets. I’m big and black and, from the lens of a officer’s body cam or a police helicopter hovering above, I am menacing and an immediate threat to myself, the community and the policy. I pray that I will never be in a situation where my life will be in the hands of someone that is so fearful of the false historical and media hyped image of who I am, or more accurately “what” I am. It’s sad that when I leave my home I have to be equally concerned with being comfortable in my clothes as I have to be with making sure I don’t look like a “suspect or person of interest”.

    I believe that there are far more good police officers than there are bad ones and I believe that color and race and ethnicity should be what we celebrate as part of our society’s diversity instead of what we use to choose sides and assume battle positions. I hope that white people, black people and people of any and every color read your words and understand that WE are in a crisis and WE must solve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Jermal, I appreciate your comments and perspective very, very much. You and so many other loved ones in our big circle of friends and family do fit a misperceived profile. It’s why we pray for you all – solidly good men to your core – each and every day. And why we stand with you to speak peace, justice and love at every turn. My hugs of thanks to you!

      Like

      Reply
  2. Karin Lukas

    Sorry – another comment from me. I just wanted to say as a white person that I am so sorry to read all the uncomfortable and negative situations you and your family have been through just based on the color of your skin. Especially you and your family, which seems so loving and full of positive energy and optimism. I sincerely hope our society, we and I change and can change this. It is wrong. Thank you for your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Karin, I feel your genuine caring – and I sincerely thank you. Our family’s experience is common for African Americans and surely reflects our historical place in the U.S. Even with all we’ve built, accomplished and contributed to America, it’s never been enough to completely end the second class citizenship moments we still experience. It’s kind of like a needle that’s stuck on a really old and bad record. And it’s really past time to fix it, once and for all. Thank you again, including for the thinking and writing work you’re already doing to promote awareness and positive solutions.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Eva Bailey

    Finally someone has expressed how we as African American should be thinking about what is happening to us. With the opening of the National Museum of African American tomorrow, we should be celebrating Not waiting to view another video of a African American Man Shooting.
    Thanks Karin for helping us focus and your blog “ stretch & grow”

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Thank YOU, Eva. I’ve been thinking, too, of how Tulsa and Charlotte are unfortunately overshadowing this historic moment: the museum’s opening. I guess the irony is perhaps the wish among so many of us that incidents like Tulsa and Charlotte could simply be old artifacts in the museum, not current events. My hugs of gratitude to you for reading and sharing!

      Like

      Reply
  4. Rhonda Cheatham

    As an African American would with a similar rich legacy of faith, love, and a spirit of giving him and support of others, attempting to pass that torch to my children threatens to burn my fingers. It’s not that these injustices didn’t occur when we were younger (circa 1988), but we didn’t have the immediacy of social media and mobile devices to deliver the horrors in real time.

    I tell my kiddies that they’re beautiful, all together lovely, King’s kids…priceless in value. I love on them generously, naturally, easily. Because they are all those things and much more. The Unfortunate truth is I too have adopted a risk management approach to parenting to protect my children. I tell them that they dont have the luxury of going to school with bed head because of the prejudgments that may exist in their hyper white school. I tell them that they can’t walk to the local 7-11 with a group of kids for fear it will incite suspicion, with them as the primary target.

    I could go on- but my point is – everyday I prep them to tackle a world that doesn’t value and treats those that look like them as disposable…forgettable…I create confusion and conflict in their little hearts. “If my life and all life is beautiful and a testament to Gods creativity and love for color and variety, why do I have to change my behavior?”

    I have yet to provide an answer that satisfies their questions. But after the Charlotte incident, I have another opportunity to try.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Rhonda, thank you so much for sharing your own experiences. These are hard conversations with our children, but clearly required. Their innocence, like ours, gets interrupted by life’s realities – and one of those realities is surely our lived experiences as African Americans navigating the world around us. Sending my hugs of appreciation to you for reading and sharing your perspective!

      Like

      Reply
  5. Karin Lukas

    Karin, Thank you for your words. I know you could scream, but that is not your style, you are always posed and elegant. I will share your post. I am white and from Europe and moved to Charlotte via NY and SF ten years ago. I have witnessed racism since the first week I moved here. At first I didn’t know really what was going on – behavior just seemed odd. About six years ago, at a PTA meeting I experienced true and blatant racial tension. I was baffled and I mainly realized I lived in a white bubble. Finally, three years ago, I decided to try and understand what was really going on. What made me decide to get out of my white bubble was a youtube video of a girl saying she was not going to go to work but instead was going to “call in black”. Ferguson, Flint, your hair, your constant vigilance, you name it – there is so so so much us whites are clueless about. I started interviewing African Americans (because I must confess, as my daughter points out, while she goes to a mixed school, I know hardly any African Americans) and I have written over thirty stories since…. Karin, I am so happy to know you and be able to read your honest words. Please share more karin

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Karin, I always appreciate your candor and willingness to stretch and grow your understanding of so many ideas, experiences and realities. Thank you as always for reading and for sharing with others!

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s