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America, 2016

Before there was always grey area. We at least had that.

But that’s gone. Philando Castile was executed at point blank range for a broken tail-light. Spin it one way. Spin it the other. You’ll end up in the same place. He was no threat. He was shot point blank 4 times while reaching for his car registration. His fiance sat next to him in the car. Her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat. Based on how agitated and crazed the cop acted, it’s a wonder he didn’t shoot the woman and child as well. Castile’s fiancee pulled out her cell phone and recorded live video of him dying. One of the most horrific things you’ll ever see. America, 2016.

Castile was a legal gun owner with a concealed permit. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. Announced he was legally carrying. Clearly. No grey area. Didn’t matter. Gun advocates are strangely silent. America, 2016.

Dallas police officer Brent Thompson was killed by a sniper. A fucking sniper. Thompson was married 2 weeks ago. Spin it one way. Spin it the other. You’ll end up in the same place. 

One man died because he was a black male. The other died because he was a white cop.

Is it even worth pointing out that neither fit the stereotype they were killed over? It should be, so I just said it. But I’d be shouted down on TV. Eaten alive. I’d look weak and silly. Both sides justify the unjustifiable. Those who point this out get run over in both directions.

America 2016.

If Castile was white, he’d be alive now. Most likely, he wouldn’t have been stopped by the police in the first place. If he was? White guy….with white fiancee next to him. Behind them a 4 year old white baby in a car seat. A cop is gonna blast away when he reaches for his car registration? In fucking Minnesota?

And, put bluntly, if Thompson were black, the rifle scope would have passed him by. Because he didn’t fit the profile.

Hate does strange things. And it makes for strange bedfellows.

Castile mattered. For a few hours. But once that sniper rifle opened up, he became just another statistic. Because America, 2016 can’t handle nuance. We are too divided to find fault on our own side.

It has to be one story, or the other story. It can’t be both. There can only be one headline. And that headline is screaming right now. Cops were picked off like ducks in an American city, 2016. That’s what it has come to. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my lifetime.

We cannot handle nuance. We shout too loud. Facts become pesky. Like mosquitoes.

160708035505-17-dallas-shooting-0708-restricted-overlay-teaseAnd then I saw this photo. And I thought, if we’re gonna put blinders on, maybe we should do so while staring at this photo. For a few seconds. A few minutes. Hours.

What do you see?

You know….maybe that’s America, 2016 too. Maybe, when the haters stop hating and the shouters stop shouting and the marchers stop marching….when we all collect our collective breaths, we can live and die together. We can comfort each other and ignore the fuck out of color and religion and class and geographical boundaries…..we can breathe the same air on this small planet and together cherish our children’s futures. And perhaps wrap our heads around the fact that the man who suggested we try something like this previously was killed. By a sniper. In Dallas. Hate can win battles but the war still rages. There’s still a chance. I can see it in this picture. Can you?

My eldest was born with the empathy gene. She feels the lash on the backs of others. At times like this she asks me, over and over…”why?” I stutter. I start to reply and then stop, because I realize that nothing rational is going to come out. She’s starting college in the fall. She’ll be away. I want to steal her and hide her and keep her from all of this. I want to block her ears and cover her eyes and cherry-pick her adventures.

But no. It’s those that feel the lash on another’s back that are in this picture. And if we’re going to heal this fracture, it’s those who must do the doctoring. The world needs her every bit as much as I do.

In a bit…


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