My family and I live in the Bronx. So does our babysitter. She is Black. I am white. Her oldest is a boy who's really into cars. My oldest, also a boy, is obsessed with "carses." (I'll explain the difference between "cars" and "carses" in episode 5 of the show.) When her son wanted to buy a BMW, she objected. If my son tried to buy a BMW, I'd object too.... So we're pretty much in the same boat, right?
Wrong. Our babysitter objected because her son is Black, and a black-skinned man driving a BMW here is that much more likely to be pulled over by the police. By contrast, my primary objection to my son having a BMW revolves around the fact that he's two and his feet can't reach the pedals. (I'd also hope the car dealership wouldn't sell to my kid as no one should be extending credit to a two-year-old and I'm pretty sure the only cash my kid has access to is Monopoly money.)
As it turns out, I think our babysitter's son did get the BMW. Now what happens if he gets stopped extra because of that? I'm guessing this depends. A different Black friend of mine -- a straight-shooting lawyer who's a married father-of-two with a house in the burbs -- told me he's been stopped by the police for traffic violations twice and had guns pulled on him. It seems to me that every time a gun is drawn, the chances of it being discharged rise. How would you respond if you were staring down the barrel of a gun that shouldn't have been drawn in the first place, knowing any "false move" could get you killed?... Our babysitter has really bad seasonal allergies that act up when the pollen count is high. (I've only ever heard of one other person sneezing in sevens.) Maybe her son has bad allergies too. I have no idea. But somewhere in this country there is a Black man with allergies, and he's going to be stopped by the police for a traffic violation in allergy season and made to roll down his window. What happens if he makes a sudden movement because the pollen count is high and he has to sneeze? Is he going to end up like George Floyd, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor (to name a few)?
And speaking of Breonna Taylor, a white acquaintance of mine posted on social media that she supported the protests as long as they remained "PEACEFUL" (all caps) but that there was looting and the sound of sirens in her neighborhood, and it was alarming. She noted that she shouldn't have to live in fear in her own home, especially since she now had a family. She's right. But that was all about her. She shouldn't have to live in fear in her own home because she now had a child. First of all, do you have to have a child to have a right to feel safe in your own home? No. Second, I guarantee you there were other families with children in this woman's high-rise building before her daughter was born a couple of months earlier. Why was she only talking in Is (that is "I shouldn't have to fear" and "I have a family now")? Most importantly, this woman complained she shouldn't have to be fearful in her own home based on noise that accosted her ears and looting she knew was taking place nearby but would soon be over. Breonna Taylor shouldn't have had to be fearful in her own home; eight bullets accosted her there.
Someone else told me this week that she was bothered by the shouting from the peaceful protests near her home. I said the protesters were right, and better for her that she experience that than what George Floyd experienced under Derek Chauvin's knee. Our society needs to change; had she done anything (even one thing) to help bring about this change? I was shut down immediately.
To those not protesting in any fashion (online, in dialogues with others or in any of the many peaceful protests on the streets): WAKE UP! The shouting from the protests is supposed to reach you wherever you are and it's supposed to make you uncomfortable, so you DO SOMETHING. Yes, you should know comfort and safety in your own home. But we shouldn't sleep well at night until we know that OUR Black brothers and sisters also enjoy safety and security, and in equal measure. It's obvious that they do not in America in 2020.
We can do better if we all start to ask what can I do. When you shop, buy from businesses that share your values. And if you're an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, why not build a business that reflects your values and promotes positive change?