American Experiment: Never Have I Ever

I have never been brutalized by the police. Most of the police encounters I’ve had have been the result of my tendency to drive too fast, especially on the open road.

I shared this in response to a question from a young activist who asked a group of young activists, mostly millennials, to share their brutal encounters with the Chicago police.

I was the oldest person there and the only one to not have a story of police abuse.

So I listened to their hard-to-hear stories and marveled at their resilience and their willingness to risk additional mistreatment in protest of the state-sanctioned brutality against black and brown bodies.

I don’t have to experience the trauma to be able to empathize with those who have been traumatized. I don’t have to witness the brutalization to be able to see the devastation created. I don’t have to feel the particular confusion of unexpectedly being accused of wrong doing by someone with the state-sanctioned power to kill me to understand the disorientation and mental anguish of those who have.

I can bear witness. I can be a safe, soft landing space for those who seek to alleviate their suffering by sharing their pain. I can amplify their stories in the spaces I occupy.

Most importantly, I can accept their truth as true for them. And I can refrain from voicing doubt or even denying their experience just because it wasn’t MY experience.

“I ain’t going nowhere. If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen.” ~ Cynthia Bond, Ruby

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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