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Friday, July 8, 2016

Lamentations for Philando Castile. And Put On Your Marching Boots--please forward this call to action

My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed in the streets of the city." Eicha (Lamentations) 2:11
Our little school vigil for Philando Castile became a rally several thousand strong, with every race and many religions * supporting Phil's family, demanding change. 
But at the end of the day, Phil was still dead. And he's still dead this morning. My little one wiped her tears on her fuzzy hand-me-down bathrobe while she tried to understand how our Cafeteria Gentleman, as one child called him, got shot-- because his skin is brown. (One of hundreds of children around the country, beginning with little Dae'anna Reynolds, trying to understand.) I can't even begin to explain to her why the officers involved comforted the shooter and did nothing for Phil, bleeding and unconscious, or why they hauled his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds out, withheld four-year-old Dae-anna from her, forced Diamond facedown on the concrete and cuffed her, put her in detention, didn't allow her a phone call. Why they didn't allow Phil's mother, Valerie, to see her son before he died, why they didn't even tell Diamond her boyfriend was dead--why they sent her to the wrong hospital to try to see him there, after he had already died. 

And you understand, I'm not Phil's mother, trying to cope with the loss of her only son, her good, gentle son. (Oh, Warrier Mother, I will join your fight) My daughter was not in the back seat of that car, learning that police officers are the bad guys, who shoot kind men on the way home from the grocery store. 

Valerie Castile

I'm not Phil's uncle, who me helped carry poster board for signs yesterday, or his niece or his cousin, or his best friends from high school, or our shared neighbor, the kindest woman I know and the most warm-hearted, a woman who leads with love, who lives in love, who wiped tears away and asked me to write "Love, you, baby," on her poster board. "I loved Phil since before he was born."

 Loved you since before you were born, I wrote. She shook her head. "No." Rolling it up, putting it away. "I love you, baby. You know that's true, but I can't say I loved him. I love him and I will always love him. I have always loved him and I always will." 

And I'm not Phil's fierce girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, ravaged with grief, raging with clarity, repeatedly and powerful making her call to action. 

But I am here, and I am going to answer her call. I will not be sitting around weeping, though I will weep. I will not be sitting around praying things will change, though I will pray. I will be studying and seeking allies and my prayers will lead my feet to march. And the next time I march, it will be for specific things that we will be pressuring our leaders to implement--a stop to any allowance of racial profiling from police officers. (Philando was picked out by the police officer because of his "wide nose.") A change to the Supreme Court's ruling that a stop for a busted light can be probably cause for a search. (They believed that Phil--because he had dread locks and said "wide nose" might be an armed robbery suspect and that's why they called in the traffic stop.) A change to police recruitment and training, so that they are not just judged by how many bullets they can put into a target and how quickly, but by how well they can think in tight situations without killing their fellow citizens. And anything else that I can find out to work for. I ask that you join me. Please spread the word on this. For Phil, for his girlfriend, his mother, for 520 children, beginning with his girlfriend's little girl, and continuing through his school' students, and for everyone else with brown skin, like Philando Castile. 

*Probably no Yazidis, Zoroastrians or Manicheans, but what do I know?

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