This afternoon, I watched a heartbreaking conversation between Erin Burnett and Bre Gamble and Deavion Gamble, a son of Javier Ambler, who was killed by the police in March of 2019. “To see the change in my sons and see them spiral downward,” said Bre Gamble, the mother of Deavion and his brother. “Your children do not mean more than my children.” Sue is a white mother who is painfully aware of the losses that black mothers too often have to endure. I have included the whole interview at the end of her post.
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
After I had seen the video of George Floyd’s murder, I felt a heaviness weighing me down. It is on the inside, perhaps, a hole that one has fallen into. It pulls on my chest, my heart hurts, it is hard to move. There is a not knowing, not knowing what to do or what to say. A place of total understanding juxtaposed to what the hell is going on. It is beyond my comprehension that people could hate so much and, yet, I know it is so. In his youth, my son once said, “You know Mom, you cannot have the dark without the light.” There is a meme trending of a black photo on Instagram to show solidarity with all the black souls. It captures not only the depth of pain that surrounds all of us, but the solidarity people share around the world.
In 1992, after the officers were acquitted of police brutality against Rodney King, Los Angeles erupted in a violent upheaval. Riots in Hollywood and Compton. The city was on fire, looting going on, people being in the wrong place at the wrong time were pulled from their vehicles and assaulted. I watched and cried. I both understood the anger, the lashing out, and didn’t at the same time. I wanted to shout, “You cannot become what you abhor!”
At that time, my son was 16 and attending Venice Magnet School. This was a day that he would leave school at 3 and would normally be home by 4, but he wasn’t. The news reports were of violence all over the city. I feared for his life. No cell phones then. I waited and waited. Called his father and stepmother to let them know he was not yet home. Called my sweetheart who said he could see fires in Hollywood. I cried and waited in anguish. Five o’clock came, and then six o’clock with my panic building and then, finally, at 7 he was hugging me. He had been caught in the mass exodus from the city and had been sitting in Pacific Coast Highway traffic and returned to our home distressed but healthy. How many Black Mothers are that fortunate?
Amidst the protests this week there is a sea change. One might say a Tsunami. Yes, there was violence and looting initially, but the power of peaceful protests and the desperate need to be heard at last is what prevailed. A plea for unity and change comes from the entire community, not just our Black brothers and sisters. The streets have been teeming with peaceful protesters of every race, every age, and over a week later, they remain in the streets. (Trump must be apoplectic knowing more people are protesting than attended his Inauguration.) The fear of the COVID-19 has not stopped them. They put on their masks and marched through the streets of our largest cities and our smallest, and in countries around the world, united in the concept that all beings are created equal and should be treated as such. They lead the way to change.
May this be the darkness to contrast with the coming light.