Parents, the Next Time Our Children Complain That Life Is Not Fair…

June 8, 2015

Yesterday, like many of you, I saw the video of a McKinney police officer “serving and protecting” the community.

It was disturbing.

It was maddening.

Everything he did was probably illegal.

I thought I had had my dose of righteous indignation for the day. Then I read the story from The New Yorker about Kalief Browder, a teenager who was detailed for more than a thousand days without a trial, was abused, starved and beaten by guards on video, and recently committed suicide after his release.

The thing I found myself thinking about these two stories is that I don’t need to know the whole story. With stories like Michael Brown, the issues that we could have talked about were undermined by the fact that we do not know the whole story.

But in these two cases, we just don’t need all the facts. It doesn’t matter that one video doesn’t tell the whole story. An officer kneeling on a hundred-pound girl in a swimsuit is all we need to know. The same officer pulling his gun on teenagers while kneeling on the girl is all we need to know. The officer running around, cursing at teenagers is all we need to know.

We do not need to know anything about the robbery that Kalief Browder was never tried for. We do not need the details of his life.

Why do we not need any of these things?

Because they do not matter to the outrage we should feel. Not one event, not one circumstance that preceded these stories makes anything justifiable. There is just no reason for an officer to act the way this guy is acting. There is no conceivable reason why a sixteen year old should be detailed for years, waiting for a trial, and be abused while being detained.

So I ask you, parents, when are we going to start teaching our children about where they come from?

Obviously, the parents in that McKinney neighborhood are teaching their kids where they come from. They put up signs around the pool, thanking the police for keeping them safe. But that’s not what I mean.

I mean teaching our children that the world doesn’t look like our own homes.

We keep a photo of the Rwandan boy whom we sponsor on the fridge, because we want our child to see that the world is not a middle class neighborhood. Not everyone is white. Not everyone gets to go to school. Not everyone gets the (modest) luxuries that his parents can afford. If nothing changes, our child will never live in danger of poverty. And we are having serious discussions about how to help give him a sense of justice toward the children who do live in poverty.

How do we even start to teach him that not everyone is afforded the same police protection in this country? I have next to zero fear that my child will ever be assaulted by a police officer. I just don’t know.

I don’t know how we are going to teach our son about these things, but I think the point is that we are going to do it. It took me until I was an adult to really see these things in the world. I don’t want it to take so long for my son.

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Those parents in McKinney appear to be completely tone-deaf, or they didn’t see this officer going on a rampage.

But I’m done. I can’t teach my son to unquestioningly trust authority. I can’t teach him that police are always there to help.

We usually tell our children that life is not “fair” when they whine or complain that they don’t have what they want.

I think I’ll show my child just how unfair the world can be, just how unfair his life really is…

One response to Parents, the Next Time Our Children Complain That Life Is Not Fair…

  1. Difficult, awful, unfair, unjust things like these have probably always happened – we just live in a time when they can much more easily be surfaced.

    Not excusing any of it. I’m repulsed by it all. But now, perhaps finally, a light can be shined on it.