How I Empathize 

“You are too sensitive, a bleeding heart.” My dad would tell me as a little girl.  From a young age, I have possessed a very strong ability to empathize.  I see or hear people’s stories and I’m instantly transported; I am dropped into their shoes and feel their pain, drawing on my own fears to relate.

Enter Black Lives Matter.  Enter the call for reforms in law enforcement and protests in the streets.  

First, never doubt my fierce and intense love of my husband and his job.  No one loves an officer more than I love mine.  He is half my soul, half my heart and I would die defending him.

That love is why I understand.  If my husband was killed because of that badge on his chest, my soul would be torn in half.  Literally, there is a great piece of me that would die with him.  The pain, loss, and deep sorrow would breed an undeniable anger within my broken soul.

If the love of my life was stolen from me because a person couldn’t see past the badge on his chest, I would want the world to burn.  I would want to scorch his name into the collective memory.  I would want everyone to know that losing my husband is not just my loss- or my children’s loss- but a loss for us all.  I would want you to share my pain.

You would not be able to silence my screams in the streets.  You would not be able to quench my need for justice and change.  My grief would whip up the winds of reform and I would not stop until his death meant something.

Now change “badge on his chest” to “color of his skin” and reread the above.  Imagine that pain and sorrow.  Imagine the anger.  Imagine the helplessness as you watch this happen time and time again.

This world could be so much better with a little empathy.  A little sympathy.  With a little understanding and trying to open our hearts and ears to others.

Just because your experience is not the same as people of color in America does not negate their experience.

It is time to call for change.  It is time to reform.

I say this because my heart cannot handle seeing another weeping wife/ girlfriend/ mother crying in the streets.  I say this because there are good black men dying.  I say this because there are good officers dying.  I say this as a woman who loves her husband and cannot bear to see him presumed to be a power-hungry racist because he shares a badge with a few who abuse their power.  I say this as a woman who cannot bear the idea of losing her husband because someone couldn’t look past his badge to the heart that lay underneath.

So I cry it out nowchange!” I cry it out now while my husband still breaths because I can sympathize with those who don’t.

“Change!”

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