Atatiana Jefferson was murdered in her own home. This is “not okay,” to put it euphemistically. I’m concerned that her killer is going to be sent off with a slap on the wrist.
If your Black friend tells you not to call the police, even if you have not heard from them in a few days, do not call the police. This is not up for question. Until we can trust every officer in every city in every state, this is not up for question. Please respect their wishes and need for safety.
If you are a white person who needs some tips:
- Please go check on your friend or loved one yourself. If you can’t gain access to their home and are really concerned, please talk to their neighbors first, because they’ll know better than anyone.
- If that doesn’t work, please call the fire department instead. They may be already put-upon, especially in Houston right now, but they may save a life and not shoot your loved one in their own home.
- To my friends in HPD: do not take this as an assumption that you, or every officer, is going to shoot a person of color, but we have a long way to go in Texas, and in this nation, and everyone needs to have a listen. There is so much in the way of training that needs to happen right now. Please respect the fact that this is a trust problem that many of us have right now. I’m a white lady that was once detained for 17 hours for a clerical error about a broken taillight, and that was EASY, compared to what my Black friends have gone through as I was driving them home in my car while they were terrified that they’d be killed just for being Black. They’ve had to worry that if they were in the back seat of my car, they’d be shot on the assumption that they were carjacking me. I’ve learned much from that.
Whatever training we’re doing in Texas, it’s clearly wrong in Dallas/Fort Worth, most of all. I challenge Chief Acevedo to do something about this. People should remain safe if they are in their homes and doing no harm to anyone. Domestic abuse calls and the like deserve intervention, and we’re failing on that – it’s time for the whole system to have an overhaul. I’d welcome a sit-down with Chief Acevedo on what we’re doing in our town with HPD.
The above being said, I propose this instead: a network of volunteers, much like we had in Montrose in the 1970s for the LGBTQ community, with a number you can call for checks on someone’s welfare without involving the police. A group that will provide someone trustworthy to make sure your friend is okay and safe, and you will not have to worry about them being shot in their own home by a rookie with a quick trigger finger.
It all comes back to community. Community and communication. These are the things that will save us. Talking to each other, listening, knowing your neighbors, these small networks that become larger networks. Listening. Listening. Listening. Listening to people who are not the same as you. You gain understanding and respect by listening.
Here’s a good opportunity for listening: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215794976321204&set=p.10215794976321204&type=3&theater
Listening makes so much more of a difference than you’ll ever know, and you don’t even know how many lives you’re saving by doing that one simple thing, the one that seems scariest of all. By listening, you learn and grow. When you think you know everything, that’s when you know the least. Listening gives you a voice too.
Step back. LISTEN. Be of help. When you’re quiet for a while, and hear what people have to say, you can find the needs and become the helper you (hopefully) want to be. You make our city and our whole existence safer for everyone. There is a whole world outside of your own sphere, if you take the time to hear and care.
If you listen as much as you talk, you build a legacy, because you learn and grow. Please learn and grow along with me, for a better tomorrow for all of us – including you.