I have been vehemently against the violence and destruction of property we have all witnessed over the last few months, even when people much smarter and more educated than I have told me this is necessary for change to happen. I am still skeptical but the more dissent and disassociation I witness first hand, both in social media and in personal interaction on a day to day basis, the more I see what they’ve been trying to tell me. I don’t like it, I don’t endorse it and I don’t want to believe it but the evidence is incontrovertible. Please please prove me wrong.
“There has never been a large scale social change in this country brought about by peaceful protest or demonstration”. I’m not nearly well versed nor eloquent enough to make this argument but I’m listening and I’m studying and I’m trying my very best to find examples of change where law abiding citizens practiced their right to assemble without breaking any laws or windows or barriers and I can’t. I just … I can’t. I want to – desperately – but I can’t. I want these people who are smarter than me to be wrong and I want to prove to them that change can happen peacefully and without violence but I haven’t been able to find a single comparable incident in the history of the United States where this is true.
I understand that it’s a frightening concept and that we are all feeling less secure. I know that this is something that many of us have never had to experience in our lifetimes. I’m scared for myself, my family and my friends on all sides of this issue. I have never in my life considered another human being inferior to me because of their race or complexion. If you were to ask anyone in my family or my friends growing up they would verify this has always been true. I’ve been an outspoken advocate of civil rights even before I completely understood what that meant.
I can tell you stories of times where I myself was questioned simply because I had a black person in the car with me. No I’m not assuming – the officers would actually TELL me that was the reason. “You need to get better friends” was stated to me once when I was dropping a friend off at his house off Lucas & Hunt. “You don’t belong with these people” another time. “Don’t let me catch you down here with this guy again” I was told by a black police officer when I was driving one of my black employees home after he worked a double shift for me at the restaurant I managed. When the lights came on behind me Lonnie (RIP) put his hand firmly around my upper arm in the car and said to me “Mary don’t fight back just agree with whatever he says.” As the officer approached the car I could feel the fear emanating from Lonnie but I was young and naive and I didn’t really understand why he was so afraid. These things happened and they’re still happening every.single.day. I recall once my friend saying after returning from a night out with friends before President Obama was elected the first time “Man I wish you’d been out with us last night” and when I asked why she said “Because you would have put these people in their places.”
I know to many of you I’m still wearing those “rose colored glasses” and I’m seen as a bleeding heart liberal and I’m okay with that because … well … I am. I want desperately to believe that we can create a world where everyone is treated the same. I just want it to happen without anyone getting hurt.
Please … I beg you … prove me wrong. Show me examples of events in the history of the United States where change for the good was implemented with only peaceful demonstration or discussion. Help me find those rose colored glasses again because I miss them.