I want you to do a thought experiment with me.
Imagine an ordinary day. You leave the house to go to work. You tell the people you live with goodbye, maybe you love them and tell them so, but you leave with the understanding that you will come home at the end of the day and be together again.
Now, imagine on your way home there is a terrible accident. And you die. You don’t make it home. And the people expecting you to come home have to be told that you’re never coming home again. You’re dead.
It’s devastating, right? It’s unfair. It’s sad. It’s the way I come to play a role in some people’s lives- as a funeral director. As the one to handle the body. As the one to hand tissues to the people who are suddenly in love with someone who is dead instead of with someone who is alive. It’s never not sad.
And it was an accident, right? Maybe you were speeding or changing the song or just tired. But you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. But you’re still dead.
Do you see where I am going with this?
I’m white. If I leave the house at night, I come home to my husband who is sleeping soundly because we can’t spend our lives worrying about accidents and there’s no other reason why I wouldn’t come home.
But for George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and Ahmoud Arbery, and Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland, and Iyanna Dior, and Tony McDade, and Amber Isaac, and far too many others-
when they left home their families worried about more than freak accidents. They worried that the color of the skin of the person they loved might be a reason that they wouldn’t come home.
And they were right.
That accident? That one thing between you and coming home to your loved ones? That’s not the only thing that Black Americans have to worry about keeping them from coming home. It’s not what keeps mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and friends and lovers of people with black skin awake.
Too many Black Americans don’t come home because they are murdered. They are murdered by people who are supposed to keep us safe. By people who have bought into the systemic sickness of our culture that teaches white people that black skin is dangerous, is a threat, is not human. By a medical system that devalues self-reporting of symptoms because black skin is seen a “tougher.”
It’s a fact that in this country the color of your skin is a very real factor in whether or not you come home.
Come home from going for a run. Come home from giving birth. Come home after going to sleep in your own bed. Come home from playing in the park with your friends.
That’s more than devastating. That’s unacceptable.
And it needs to change.
Life is short. And it is so very easy to die simply by nature of being human and mortal and existing in the world.
We can’t change that.
But the color of your skin should not be a reason it’s easy to die.
And we can change that.
We can make it equal for all people by standing up and fighting the systemic racism that pervade every institution in this country. We can have conversations in our own homes and families, in our communities, on a nationwide level, about racism and how to combat it. What we cannot do is remain silent.
We can do better. We MUST do better.
Black Lives Matter.