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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guest post: Letter from a black police officer's wife

I'm yielding the floor -- ok, the cloud space -- of my blog to a colleague who has bravely taken the time to write about her experiences as the wife of a black law enforcement officer (LEO). As the Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter movements rage on in our country, I've wondered what it is that I, a white middle-class woman, can do? So part of what I can do is provide space for Victoria to share a piece of her heart. -- Amy, The 4th Frog

Dear Indianapolis and other big American cities-

I hear you. I feel for you. I have been toying with the idea of writing you for days, but feared my letter would go unnoticed, lost between recent headlines. You see, I am a part of the very slim minority of being the wife of a Black Law Enforcement Officer and my heart is doubly breaking these days. I can only tell you my story, America. I can only say that these are my thoughts and my feelings and I am not trying to persuade you to think one way or another. This is just my story, but for such a time as this, this is my platform.

 photo 30fbc9f8-2ccf-4673-893e-2600f406f8ac_zpsqitany3r.jpgMy husband wears two uniforms, one he willingly and bravely wears each day, representing this city. It’s crisp, clean, and blue, and it’s adorned with pins and stripes and a badge with a three-digit number that identifies him.

Then there is another uniform he wears daily.

This uniform is who he is, it’s smooth, dark brown, a little weathered from the forty something years he has been on this Earth; he loves this uniform. I love this uniform of skin that he is in, but I also realize this uniform requires a great amount of responsibility and intentionality.

As I heard of the news of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, my heart was put in that place again. That place that was never meant for our hearts to feel but because of the brokenness of this world I feel it. Jesus once felt it --so much so that He wept, and here I was trying to make sense of something that will never make sense. Camera angles, what they did or didn’t do, what they should have or could have done differently -- each person involved, but the fact remains that two Black men are gone. Life has been lost and it is so very tragic. When I see Alton, when I see Philandro, I see my husband. I see his daily uniform. I see the vulnerability of black skin.

As I stared blankly at the television screen watching the violence of Dallas unfold I was in that place again. That place that makes me cry out each day, “Come home, honey” -- each day as he heads out to face who knows what, in who knows where parts of the city, to who knows what kind of circumstance. I hear the headlines change from 3 to 4, to 5 lives lost and I am broken. A peaceful protest interrupted by the unimaginable, changing lives forevermore, taking lives too soon. When I see Sgt. Michael Smith and Officer Patrick Zamarripa I see my husband. I see his uniform. I see the vulnerability of blue skin.

So many of you are asking all over social media, is it really possible to have a deep concern for Black lives, to feel that injustice is still occurring, to believe that discrimination still exists solely because of the color of one’s skin and not at all based on the content of their character, while still realizing the true sacrifice of a law enforcement officer to uphold the law, protect its citizens, and run toward danger in every instance, the answer is yes.

Yes, you can.

You can love both, you can pray for both. You don’t have to be all or nothing or one side and not the other. I love my all-American, strong, caring, funny, father to my children, endearing husband, Black man and I love the law enforcement officer that he is. I love both parts of him.

Can we address our fears? Can we be honest that sometimes our uniforms both the outward ones, the inward ones, the ones that are mandatory and the ones that we live in, can we be honest that sometimes we are fearful of our uniforms?

Drive out the fear by bringing it to light.

My mother use to tell me after nightmares to talk about it. She would tell me to bring those awful fears to light. These last few weeks feel like nightmares and I am in that place again hearing about Baton Rouge. 

So I am left here to talk about it, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” -- MLK, Jr.
Who is listening?

-LEO wife, 
Victoria Wilburn