Painful to be an American

Those of us who live in the United States pride ourselves on being a nation of equality and freedom, but on days like today we can’t deny the ugliness that we actually live with. Police officers killed a Black man named Alton Sterling on Tuesday morning in Louisiana, police in Minnesota killed a Black man named Philando Castile on Wednesday morning, and someone opened fire on police officers in Dallas on Thursday night. Today I feel bad to be an American.

Here are my non-emotional responses:

  1. Keep in mind that police officers killing Black people without cause is not new. What’s new is that now the killing can be captured on video and released for public viewing.
  2. Racism in the United States territories preceded the formation of the United States. The violence that started with slavery has never stopped, but we are just now beginning to face it. Beginning.
  3. Too often we see the color of someone’s skin before we notice other big clues to who they are such as their demeanor, speech, manner of dress and who they’re with. We can each individually stop making assumptions based on race right now. Please try.
  4. Pay attention to the language the media uses for these stories. If you listen, you can hear the implicit bias reflected in the way they sometimes use words like “incident” and at other times use words like “killing” or “ambush.”

Here are my emotional responses:

  1. Hopelessness because racism is so entrenched, I don’t see a way out of it, however gradual.
  2. Anger at how thick our denial is that there’s a problem in how we see Black actions and white/police actions. Deaths of Black men get described as “officer-involved shootings” instead of as “murders” or “killings,” which are words they use for the Dallas shootings.
  3. Sadness: I am so sorry that my country is like this.

On Monday, July 11th is the next Chicago Language Exchange Meetup. We usually focus on practicing English and Spanish, but this week we’re just going to have a discussion about the events of the past week and about racism in the U.S. in general. If you’d like to talk about these things or just listen, please come. Time and place are listed here: http://www.meetup.com/languagepractice/events/231338119/