Twenty plus years ago Marianne Williamson’s brilliant Return to Love rocked my world.
In this mind blowing book, she addressed the concept that everything we do in life moves us closer to fear or love.
Brene Brown states that culturally our daily questions consists of: Who are we supposed to be afraid of and whose to blame ?
We have assigned black men as the ones to be afraid of and yet no one will take responsibility(not blame) for creating this big bad that haunts and terrifies us all.
We jokingly point out the inability to catch cabs, the uncomfortability of sharing elevator space and the belief that we are all rappers, athletes or thugs.
What would happen if we trained cops and society to look at black men with love ?
What if cops publicly shared the real reasons for the unmitigated brutality they often direct towards black men.
What if police officers in mass shared that they are afraid.
Fearful that a wrong decision could end their lives or make them a scapegoat amongst peers, much of their behavior is hinged on being seen us unafraid, daring, willing to risk it all and not being perceived as weak.
I have a brilliant retired cop friend who now teaches workshops on fear, bigotry and ways to uproot its tentacles in our daily lives.
Sergeant Levy shares the belief that those who face the possibility of death on a daily basis often have one goal: ending the day alive in an effort to get home to his family.
When he shared this rational desire, it was clear to me that there was a great deal of work that could be completed here with all citizens.
Our work could center on our collective need to return to the ones we love.
Black men also seek to return to the hearts and physical space of those who love us.
We often choose fear (masked as bravado and aloofness) to avoid the pain that occurs as a result of frustration and failed, unrealized dreams.
It is easier to be upset than hurt.
We choose fear, rename it (anger) and limit our choices and ability to respond to social injustice with well thought out, rational and passionate action plans.
We hurt and silently die when we are either not seen or seen in limited and vile ways.
What if for one day we all gave up the concept that what we needed was more sentimentality (which is its own type of violence) and replaced it with the desire to understand and actually see and hear the black male voice.
Society is notorious for creating an us versus them dichotomy as a way to stay safe and unchallenged. We all feel better when our relationships are predictable and peopled with folks that look and think like us.
It is easy to declare love when you are never challenged.
We all fear change.
How we negotiate and respond to change is the most powerful and positive response when things and people begin shifting identities.
We must learn to welcome the new and not offer parental like punishments to anyone who has the balls to dig deep and demand more from themselves and the world.