Some stories leave me speechless. Alex Landau in his StoryCorps sharing with his mother in Traffic Stop is just such a story. In Traffic Stop, Alex recalls a horrendous encounter with a three police officers who pull him over, find some weed on his white passenger friend (Alex is a 19 year old African American) and because Alex has the nerve to ask for a search warrant is beat up by the officers and then asked: “Where’s that f#*@& warrant now you nigger”?
Yes, I’m speechless, but I can’t remain silent. I believe silence is the problem. I also believe it’s not my job to place blame. What I can and must do is recognize and identify not only with the victim (that’s easy), but also with the perpetrators. That’s not easy. It is necessary if any healing will take place. I, like the officers involved, often treat others terribly. Worse than that, I ignore them and don’t even admit to their existence.
In the September 28th Chicago Tribune’s Commentary, “I’m a 78 year-old racist—Mel Novit tells his story. Mr. Novit courageously identifies where he needs to grow. and gives me a powerful example of how I can learn and grow, no matter my age, by recognizing my mistakes, owning them and then most importantly do something to make up for them. Often, as in Mr. Novit’s and Mr. Landau’s cases, I can simply tell my story.
Thank you Mr. Novit and Mr. Landau for your bravery and willingness to share so that I can grow.