Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rodney & Trayvon

When we lived in Maryland, Maggie had a best friend named Nina.  Either Nina was at our house or Maggie was at her house.  Up and down the street those two ran - the best of friends.

Her parents became friends of ours as well.  Woody was in the Army.  I can't remember what Stephanie did but she worked while Nina was in school.

Because of where we lived and it's proximity to North Carolina, we sometimes had trucks come through our neighborhood loaded with furniture.  The driver would park and swing open the back end, go door to door knocking and you could shop from a semi at a deeply discounted price.  His goal was to return an empty truck back to the manufacturer in High Point.

One afternoon Stephanie stepped inside the semi and bought a white sofa.  She had been stashing some cash away and the perfect opportunity came to spend some of it, and within minutes the deal was done and she had a new couch in her townhouse.

I was in awe.

Who does that sort of thing?  Squirreling cash from the household budget?  I thought it was brilliant, but would Woody like the surprise of a new white sofa?   Would Maggie and Nina ever be able to sit on it?

It was during those years that the beating of Rodney King and subsequent trial of the Los Angeles cops who were videotaped doing it was taking place. 

I had the t.v. on when the verdict was announced and all those cops were found not guilty.  I couldn't believe it.  The whole world saw this guy being beaten over and over by five policeman.  Five against one.  How could they be found not guilty?

After awhile I headed down the street to Woody and Stephanie's house.  I could see inside that Stephanie and her sister were sitting on the white sofa and deep in conversation while the same news I was watching played in the background.  I decided not to interrupt them and walked back home.

Life got busy again and the opportunity passed to say to Woody and Stephanie "I'm sorry this happened."  Does a white woman who can shop wherever she wants and not be watched the entire time for suspicion of shoplifting even have the right to say that?  Does her husband who can drive wherever he wants without being followed by the police have the right to say that?

I still don't know the answer to those questions but to this day it feels like unfinished business to me, and I regret not knocking on the door of those dear people and having an honest conversation about what it feels like to be in their shoes on a daily basis. 

Now, in addition to the brutality of some cops, there is the brutality of pretend cops.  Forty five years after Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, the injustice piles up day after day after day, the not guiltys are delivered, we're all supposed to move on..........

........and beyond a reasonable doubt I am sorry for all of it.


  1. Kathy - Another deeply moving story. This one is sad though because
    it is based on a " Truth ".
    Oh I know " we " did not make the wrong decision in the TRAYVON case, but why do I feel as though because my skin color is white...... (although I do try to Bronze it in the summer )
    that I personally owe every one of our Black friends an apology ? I care deeply about this. We have never judged anyone by their race. A friend can be any race . Do unto others ...... This case has made me sick to my stomach. What is this world coming to ? I really believe that if Rodney had been a black man who killed a white boy ....well lets just say I am certain the outcome would have been very different. I guess all I can do now is pray that someday the Scales of Justice will balance as they should. Until then I will be especially aware of what my dear black friends are thinking in their hearts. I already told my dear friend La Verne who is 2 years older than I .... that I wish there was something I could do or say to let her know what is in my heart. But all we did was cry - hug and remain sisters.
    I hope that is a good start.

    1. In the wee hours of the morning and half awake I made a critical error with names. Of course I know that Rodney King was a Black man and a different story. I apologize for my not proof reading my own writing. I guess you could say I wrote my feelings with honesty. What I meant to say was if George Zimmerman had been a Black man and Trayvon had been a white boy I feel the outcome would have been very different. I meant well .......but hopefully anyone who reads the first comment will forgive my slip.

  2. Wow, Kathleen! Great piece.

    It is so sad that our culture can't get past its prejudices no matter how many examples we have that speak to the contrary.

    I am optimistic that moments such as these will be a wake up call for those of us aware enough to recognize the trend, to move away from allowing fear to dictate our actions.

    We all need to step up our compassion (and support) for those who walk through life constantly being scrutinized merely because their skin has more melanin in it. It is truly a ridiculous basis for prejudice when you put it in context.