First, thank you, thank you, thank you Javon Johnson for a beautifully crafted piece. I love the syncopation of your delivery. I burn at your pain. My heart breaks for the four year old boy beside you in the car and the one you carry inside of you.
No, I do not know what it means to teach my son that the rules are different for him. That officer friendly is only so if you are lily white. That fear of the law is prudent. And that obeying it is not always enough. Of course there are cops doing their job with equal opportunity lenses in their rose colored glasses. But, clichés exist because they were first founded in truth.
The only thing I have experienced that is close to this sad truth is being a woman in business. I know first hand the frustration at having to prove that my being a woman is not a limitation. That my head for running a company works just as well as any man. Better, maybe, for my ability to empathize for those who have not stirred their lifetime cup of coffee with a silver spoon. I do not pretend to know the frustration of an inability to advocate for oneself. To see the five-oh and think don’t look shady. Or, like Javon’s nephew, to think hide. To get pulled over for being guilty only of being black.
I can tell you America, if you do not understand the chip on the shoulder of our people of color, that Javon’s poem gets right to the point. Believe me, some are better at keeping that pain hidden than others but it is there. Imagine we are all in the race. That our job is just to get to the finish line. In that race is ours to make a life. To find love. To make a family. If you are lucky, to have your passion also be your work. Now imagine that your race has hurdles and mine is a straight 100 meters. Please tell me that you wouldn’t want to throw yourself down on the track and have a right good tantrum. Screaming IT’S NOT FAIR! To be forced to drag that temper tantrum throwing version of yourself down the track with you for the rest of the race. Tie yourself into those shoes for a warm-up lap and see how you do.
If you’ve read this and thought, man that’s no good. If you listened to Javon share his piece and was moved, be the change you wish to see in the world. Understanding is just half of the picture. Be surprising to someone who is running a tough race. Lift them over their hurdles. Show them that you are not who they thought you’d be. Together. If we try hard enough. Maybe. Just maybe we can make the today of America look much different from the America of yesterday.E