Hedreich Nichols

Crying Over You

SmallBites Friday Five 4-16-21

This week instead of resources, here are 5 prompts to reflect on. Be brutally honest, this is for you alone. Make sure you are not answering as your perfect personae, but as the self you keep hidden, perhaps even from yourself:

Think of someone you love who has struggled to “get it all together”. Think about whether this person should be jailed, beaten or killed for a mistake that does not include murder.

Think about your experiences and opportunities. Do you believe that others have exactly the same opportunities? Do you believe that all people get exactly the same chance at success?

How many generations have your forefathers had the opportunity to vote and go to college?

What is the stupidest thing you have ever done that adversely affected others?

When reflecting over the above questions, what is your big takeaway?

This week, I am thinking of George Floyd, Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario, Daunte Wright and my son, 17 year old Christopher von Reichert. Four Black men, 2 killed and one injured at the hands of police. One, my son, is still riding with mom, thank Covid.

I remember the first time he and his cousins were riding in their Nana’s old Ford SUV. I was excited, I was afraid. Three young Black “men” in a car together. In a random traffic stop, no one would look into the back of the vehicle and see the violin, cello and bass the boys played in orchestra. If they were ordered from the car and shoved faced down to the ground, no one would know the youngest was still in middle school or that the oldest still prized his Lego collection. No one would know they still liked to remember the bedtime stories aunt Hedreich made up with them all as superheroes. In a traffic stop they might be stripped of all humanity. There could be threats or violence, my precious boys deemed guilty before charged. Possibly not? Yes, it could be that the boys will never have such an encounter. But I don’t know a Black man who has not had some similar experience; and I have had one or two of my own.

When these things happen, please, don’t assume we make it about race. I don’t know many white moms who have had “the talk” with their sons. Assume, just for a moment, that it really is about the bias and fear people feel when they see a Black person, particularly a Big Black Man. Think about those words and ask yourself if they make you uncomfortable.

That fear is why George Floyd is dead.

The absence of that fear is why almost no one was killed by the police in the January Capitol breach.

If you don’t know that fear, reflect on the questions above and watch the PBS special, The Talk. Watch it with your students, your family, share it with those who may not understand why Lt. Navario drove to a well lit area or why Daunte Wright ran. Did you know, Black people are pulled over 20% more than Whites according to this 2019 study on traffic stops? And if you think it’s not about race, here’s some context. Before you condemn their actions, especially if you have students who look like them, try to imagine what it must be like to live with that kind of fear.

And instead of being so sure that things would have ended differently if only they would have/have not________, consider that maybe, like in so many other cases, things might not have turned out differently at all.