Monday, August 18, 2014


When I hear/read about Ferguson, MO this is image that comes to mind

This photo was taken 2 years ago at a reunion for our elementary/middle school class.  I love this picture.  Because I love them (clearly its not the best photo of me to date).  This is what I think of when I hear of a young man of color shot to death.   I think of Tony who is pictured on my left.  When we were in 11th grade we wanted to have an adventure 'like on television" so he borrowed his sister's car and we went for a joyride.  Thank God we weren't stopped because being black in a car not technically yours with a white girl on the passengers side was not going to end well for us.  Kareem is on the other side of me.  Also in 11th grade he tried to teach me how to parallel park.  I drove a white Nova he drove a fire engine red Volvo- he failed as I was a horrible driver and even worse at parking.   I bet Kareem got pulled over in that Volvo- he never told me he did and he didn't have to.  I also remember Kareem always always made me laugh, even as far back as 7th grade. He never teased me and always had a kind word for me.

And on the other end is Ray- Raphael if you didn't grow up with him but I did so he is still Ray to me.  Kareem didn't have to tease me because Ray did enough for everyone.  Ray is the closest I came to having a brother.  Ray and I used to swing on the flagpole before school in 6th grade.  He could tickle me until I cried, we cried on each other's shoulders throughout junior high and high school over school yard crushes and real life loss.  Ray could make me madder than anyone else and I fought with him like I did with my sister.  He taught me to play tunk in the basement with his uncles, I cautioned against the neck tie on the first day of school (he didn't listen).  Before every prom his Mom, and sister would come over with him so we could take our prom pictures then he'd go pick up his date and the do the same thing again.  I share so much history with all of these men and this photo reminds me of all of it.

Two of the three have sons of their own now.  And each time I hear about Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown I think of them and their sons, and I say a prayer for their safety.  My experience and friendship with them is unusual and maybe even rare- and I wonder how many times they came close to being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  So when I see press conferences and police statements and vigils the truth is I have to turn away because when they flash the picture (and they are always flashing pictures) or showing the video tape I see my brothers, and I see us when we were kids and I see us now.  The turning away makes me feel ashamed.  Because they can't turn away and I can.

In a recent post Anne Lamott said she would prefer God had a "magic wand instead of a raggedy love army of helpers"  and I couldn't agree more.  Its very tiring being a part of a raggedy love army.  But that's all I know to do- all any of us can do.  Show up, show love and keep going.  So I am going to stop hiding from the news and start hoping that my story will be better because of it.  I know my story is better because of the friendship of these men.

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