It takes me a long time to process things, especially things that are hard. When Philando Castile was shot on Wednesday, less than 10 miles away from where I work, I knew I’d have to take time to think. Every social media outlet was exploding with not only the news of Philando’s death, but of Alton Sterling’s as well. While Alton is undoubtedly a victim of a broken system, Philando was my neighbor, even though I’d never met him, so this letter is for him.
Hi. We’ve never met, and now we probably never will meet. I’m sorry about that because I feel responsible. I’m a benefactor of a broken system, one of the many reasons why our paths likely never crossed. I heard about your death on Wednesday, and I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t really know what to do. I have a lot of anger, which I don’t know what to do with. I’m also pretty certain I’m not the only one who’s angry. I’m mad that your fiancés daughter had to watch you die. I’m mad that your fiancé had to watch you die. I’m mad that the lives of children you impacted positively could be negatively impacted by what happened to you. I’m mad that you weren’t given the benefit of the doubt, solely because of your skin color. I’m mad that if you would have been me, in that same situation, you’d be alive today.
It all seems so unfair. I don’t want to be mad. I don’t want to hate. I don’t want to be angry, yell, scream, and shut myself off to working towards justice.
Working for justice is hard, and I hate that it’s so hard. Justice is a slow work. There are more days of discouragement than days of hope. I know nothing I say, or promise is going to make this situation better. You’re dead and you left behind so many people that loved and cared for you. But I’m going to try.
This letter is my first step.