Last night I couldn’t sleep.
Earlier there had been some sort of disturbance in front of our house, maybe ‘kids’ (big kids) just messing about, maybe not, there was a football, yes, but there was a lot of shouting and it was late and it was dark, not the time to be out there. And so, we had called the police; no doubt an overreaction, no doubt laziness, why not just go out and ask them to be quiet, I don’t know. It was late, we were tired. Unfamiliar with the situation. Such is the cosseted life we live.
That is a different issue though, not the reason I couldn’t sleep. The reason I couldn’t sleep, the reason I was left with a bad taste in my mouth was that I kept hearing the first question the police asked: “Are they black or white?”.
Not… “what do they look like?” but “are they black or white?”
Black white black white black white black white black white black black black..
But we all know why, don’t we?
How about asking, what are they doing, what are they wearing, where, are they damaging property, how, how long have they been there… there are so many other questions that should have been more relevant and instead she (SHE) asked that one. So laden with meaning and assumptions and prejudice. And also, if you knew where I live… totally ridiculous… and more wrong because of it…
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about race at the moment and I realised that perhaps a few months ago I wouldn’t even have noticed the weight carried that question. I would have probably answered without thinking.
So I stared at the dark for ages. A little bit angry, a little bit ashamed.
What the window said to the black boy (By Clint Smith)
when someone breaks me they call it a crime
they call it property damage
they call it breaking the social contract
when someone breaks you they call it inevitable
they call it your fault
they call it Wednesday
they say that it’s you that came cracked
came shattered right out of the box
but they don’t know this is just something you do
to show how many of you there are
that none of you are the same
that the more shards there are
the more ways there are
to refract this light
that envelops us each day
Also… they were white.