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  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

We Live in a Country Where...

I was in Target on Sunday doing my weekly shopping trip with my husband, daughter and one of my two adult sons. We were all wearing our masks and practicing good social distancing, and trying to get through our list quickly so we could make room for those waiting outside in the heat to have their turn.

I always wish I could smile at the people I pass by, and I often complain that it’s hard to breathe under these things! As I turned down one aisle, I noticed a young couple shopping together and I saw something I hadn’t seen in public in a while: a bright smile! She was wearing a mask, but he wasn’t. They laughed as they walked down the aisle with their cart, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. It made me smile, though, remembering back to before we had kids & we would shop together without a care in the world.

As I went from the toasters to the freezer section and back to the sparkling waters, I kept running into this same couple—both laughing, one with a mask and one without. A couple times I smiled at them (and then would remember they couldn’t see it), when something finally occurred to me: she was wearing a mask, but he wasn’t.

She was. He...wasn’t.

Maybe he forgot it in the car? Maybe he was a recovered COVID patient? I know, I know, it’s none of my business. But the sad thing is, I suspect it was for a different reason...

We live in a country where men like him must take every precaution to appear non-threatening even at the risk of his own exposure to a deadly virus. Where men like him have to double and triple check their every move to make people like me feel safe, even on a sunny, Sunday afternoon while grocery shopping.

We live in a country where we idolize football and basketball and baseball players, and we cry foul when our gyms are closed, yet a young man can’t go for a jog through his neighborhood without being hunted and killed because of the amount of melanin in his genetic code...a country where we can’t mourn and grieve the loss of an innocent life without first asking if we’ve heard both sides of the story—because we just assume he must have deserved it.

We live in a country where some freedoms are valued above others. Some people have the right to assume they will come home safely from a run and others don’t. Some people can charm their way out of a traffic ticket and others have to keep their hands above the steering wheel where we can see them. Some people can storm the Governor’s office with masks and guns and call it a peaceful protest but others are “rioting” and “troublemakers”. Some people can wear a hoodie home at night because it’s cold out, but others can’t.

Some people are human and others are hunted.

My heart aches every time I read the headlines. Scrolling through my social media has been hard today—so much pain...not enough justice.

How many more lives, Lord? How much more can our brothers and sisters take?

I know I’d be angry...I AM angry! I’m appalled that this is still our reality. I’m furious that people still don’t get it. I’m saddened that I can’t fix it. And I’m ashamed that I’m allowed to freely express all of these emotions while those personally affected are not, because I’m a white woman. No one sees me as a threat. I will sleep tonight knowing my sons aren’t in any danger. My husband can wear his mask in public without fear. I wish everyone had this same privilege.

We HAVE to do better. We have to BE better! I don’t know where to even begin, but to my black brothers and sisters, I hope you hear my broken heart tonight:

You are seen. You are loved. And I grieve with you.

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