Conversation in a car

Conversation in a car

As I do many Saturdays, I took my mother to a local church for a Rosary service. (A Rosary service is just that: a church service where the Rosary is prayed and which is devoted to the Virgin.)

As usual, we talked about this and that. After a period of years as I was maturing when I wanted nothing to do with her, we've grown into a loving relationship. Of my other two brothers, I'm probably the one who tolerates her foibles the best. Also, as I'm the baby of the trio, I'm the apple of her eye.

We were getting close to the church, when she switches topics.

"I was talking with your brother this morning. It's just horrible what's happening to black people with the police. Why are so many of them getting killed? And killed for nothing??"

OK. A little back-history on my mother.

The fact that I'm not a racist asshole is a minor miracle. As with many white Cuban households, there existed a vein of racial animus in my family growing up. Black people were not to be trusted, were to be looked upon suspiciously, were to be doubted at all times. My grandmother—my mother's mother—was one of the most racist people I have ever met. (For all that, I loved her. Such is family.) My first girlfriend was a black Dominican; my mother went apoplectic when she found out. The message I received from the adults was pretty clear.

But, as she's aged, my mother has mellowed. She's still who she is, but she now realizes that things aren't, pardon the pun, black and white. 

However, I never expected her to drop on me that she's a BLM sympathizer. Her bewilderment and genuine pain were palpable. "You don't see police treating other groups like they treat blacks."

As her son, I don't think I've ever been prouder of her.

This is important. It's people like my mother seeing the injustice under which African-Americans live that will effect change. It is not incumbent upon black people to solve racism, but upon us who benefit from a society built by and for white people to do the heavy lifting. Yes, my mother is Latina; but as a white Cuban, she's not exactly part of an oppressed group. It's people like my mother realizing that, yes, African-Americans are subjected to an oppression to which no other group is subjected, which will turn the needle. The fact that my 85 year-old mother sees this gives me the greatest hope that we are not doomed.

"Maybe the police are just terrified of blacks. Oh, I don't know, I don't know."

"Well, if you're terrified of the community you're supposed to serve, perhaps you shouldn't be a police officer."

"Yes. Yes. You're right."

As I pulled away from the church, the setting sun shone a bit brighter. There is still time to perfect our union.



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