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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

my mother’s heart and #Ferguson

imageThis is my wonderful family. These are my infinitely fallible and perfect sons, my perfect daughter-in-law (known in my writings as DIL), my beloved. And this is a story about empathy.

Both of my sons look — to anyone outside the immediate family — perfect. I will not share their private pasts, but suffice to know that each of them has brushed with laws, although neither has a record.

We are privileged (and I don’t use the term lightly) to have enough wherewithal to hire lawyers when necessary. We know the ins & outs of university systems. We have contacts, and we have resources. Neither of my sons bears scars from youthful misadventures, some more serious than others.

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What tears me up about Ferguson, and the tragedy of Michael Brown, is the lack of empathy for this situation. Across the country, people act as if it’s okay to shoot a young man six times for …. What?

My boys have screwed up. As a young man, my husband certainly did. My DIL is brown, as is my perfect grandson, still a happy dream in this picture. If my DIL were a man — as her brother is — and screwed up? Her chances of ending up dead like Michael Brown would be significantly higher than my sons’ chances. In this photo, my sons are prime target age, bracketing Michael Brown on either side. And both of them could have — with different skin colour, with different resources available to them — ended up dead. Tragically, some of their friends did.

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I am profoundly saddened by the hatred pouring out of America, as if a mask of civility and tolerance had been torn from us, to reveal seething vitriol beneath. People throughout the country are saying that Michael Brown ‘got what he deserved.’ NO ONE deserves to be shot six times, at least two shots to the head.

What parent/ aunt/ uncle/ godparent/ mentor/ teacher/ friend believes that our children DESERVE to be executed for (and even this is very sketchy ‘evidence’) a box of cigars?? Who can look at the faces of our less-than-perfect young and not remember heartbreak? Disappointment? Who among us believes that OUR OWN children deserve the fate of Michael Brown? And why in the name of all that hearts hold dear and holy can we not understand that this was someone else’s child??

America, once again: I do NOT understand. Nor does Ferguson. And ALL of us want answers. Our children deserve them.

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