My husband wants me to get my conceal-carry permit so that we can leave a pistol in the car at all times. He’s all about it, even printing out the application and handing it to me this morning. We live in a major metropolitan area, but at the edge of some pretty wild, mountainous country so his concerns make sense. I understand the need and yet I hesitate. I’m very worried about him driving alone in our nice, new car while in possession of a loaded pistol. Why? Because he’s a black man.
Two years ago, I probably wouldn’t have had these worries. They wouldn’t have crossed my mind, and back then we were in Indiana, where the KKK still has a presence and the first thing you’re told when you move to Indy with a black man is that you’d better not get anywhere near Martinsville, IN after dark because the encounter might not be friendly.
Racism has been on the fringes, and sometimes the forefront, of our ten year marriage. When we were first together, I noticed every hateful glare from the white folks who felt the need to sit back and judge me. I ignored the comments of every black female hairdresser that referred to him as “one of those men” as she cut his hair and lamented that they’d “lost another good, educated black man to a white woman.”
We’ve had a (white) Walmart door greeter let (white) couple after couple leave the store in front of us, their carts laden with bags, without saying a word, but stop us and demand to see our receipt before we could leave with our purchases. (Don’t think I didn’t call a spade a spade right to her withered face that day, either!)
We’ve had six of our eight car tires slashed, along with all of the other interracial couples living in our apartment complex, because someone didn’t agree with our life choices and wanted to make an expensive statement.
The point is – racism has shaded our marriage, but I’ve never been as worried for him as I am now. With things like Ferguson and New York in the news, it makes me sit back and think. Yes, we’re in a much more liberal state now, and our neighborhood is full of varying ethnicities and isn’t just a sea of white faces. Yes, I know that not all cops are bad because I actually have great respect for the police. But I worry. I worry because the man I love, the man who is my best friend, the man who’s got my back when the rest of the world is stepping on my front, the man who wants nothing more in this life than to live comfortably and take care of our family, is black and wants to carry his legally-allowed pistol in our car. What if he gets pulled over? What if he does everything right, but something still goes wrong because of some irrational, deep-seated belief held by a person in a position of power? It’s 2015; I shouldn’t have to shoulder those worries.
I see the hashtag #blacklivesmatter and it hits deep and hard for me. Black lives do matter. My husband, his sisters, his brother, his wonderful mother and step-father – they all matter so much to me and others.
My hope this year is to work with people who can help foster acceptance across this great nation. Whatever your ethnicity, whatever your sexuality, you deserve two things: love and the right to live your life without fear.