This morning, we had an active shooter drill on campus. We had our emergency response plans in place from a preparatory meeting a few weeks ago, and today we tested them out. When the alert was sent out – by text, email, phone call – everyone in the building where I work piled into a little office, locked all the doors behind us, and spent the next ten minutes sharing stories of other workplace drills and laughing too loudly in the buzz of adrenaline.
This week, the town of Ferguson, MO, is under siege. Last night, all the activists I know were glued to Twitter and its eyewitness accounts of staggering police brutality.
My school, the place where I study and work, is located in one of the 10 wealthiest counties in the nation. Ensconced in our office, my coworkers and I talked about friends in other places who had been mugged. All of us are white.
"Can you imagine what would have happened without the internet watching?" "Sure. It's called the last 240 years of American History."
— Bobby (@BobbyRobertsPDX) August 14, 2014
Campus Safety is working hard to protect my school against the remote possibility of a gunman on campus. Statistically, he would be white, male, lone, probably a disgruntled student.
Police in Ferguson shot and murdered an unarmed Black man. The community has refused to accept this. The police have responded by going nuclear.
When we had the first meeting about the active shooter drill, I panicked. I'm still not accustomed to gun culture and the idea that I might have to face it firsthand freaked me out.
I'm ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed of my race.
There's a lesson in this juxtaposition. I'm learning something visceral about the nexus of violence, poverty, race, and security in the US. I struggle to unpack the enormity of the injustice. Long may it haunt me.
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?