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Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Updated: Jun 12, 2020


I was feeling good. Very good. Until I wasn’t. 


Heading through the park last week by my place, it was the first really nice day of the summer. I’m sure you know that euphoric feeling. 


In the middle of the path in front of me was a young blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, about 6 years old, kneeling by her upside-down bicycle. The chain dangled and twisted, and she appeared near tears. 


“Would you like me to fix it for you?” I asked. Silence. No eye contact. “Is your mom or dad around? I’ll find them for you.” She looked up and quietly said “No. I’m here with my friends.” I said “It’ll just take a second for me to fix it for you if you’d like.” Silence. “If not, that’s ok.”


Then the scream from the pathway behind me, “Nicole! It’s ok! I’ll get Cameron and he’ll fix your bike.”


A woman ran up and got in between me and Nicole. No eye contact. As they started to walk away she turned and glared daggers at me. 


No “Thank you,” or “Can I ask why you were talking to her?” To her I obviously had evil intentions. 


I learned a long time ago the fulfillment that comes from helping someone, especially someone hurting or vulnerable. To have that motive - and me - judged guilty was painful. 


As I continued home, it struck me: what I had just experienced must be an incredibly infinitesimal, pale comparison to what people of color feel. Every day. All the time. 


I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live like that. 


It’s no wonder that when we see a white cop kneeling on a compliant George Floyd’s neck until he kills him, that the daily, endured pain erupts into violence. 


We need law and order. But we also need a little revolution now and then to shake things up. 


To focus on the looting and chaos is completely missing the larger, more damaging injustice: the pervasive, insidious, immoral pre-judgment of people of color. 

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