Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Let me introduce you to my grandson Taysen.
We’ve been told we look a lot alike. Our features, they say, are similar. I consider that a compliment because Taysen’s a good-looking kid. I especially love his smile. It’s contagious – genuine with a twinge of mischief. Needless to say, I love Taysen.
Sadly, and for reasons I have difficulty understanding, there are those confused souls who would say Taysen and I aren’t at all alike. They might even consider him an inferior human being. You see, Taysen’s wonderful dad is black. And even though his mother is racially white, which means Taysen is as much white as he is black, he’s pigeonholed as African-American.
Personally, I don’t view that as a liability, but far too many people in this world do. It’s why Taysen’s dad, a loving, caring, yet proud black man who is an exemplary father and provider for his family, feels harsh eyes staring at him wherever he goes, especially when he’s with my gorgeous daughter, his beloved wife. It’s why he is often uncomfortable driving to work at 4 in the morning, always hoping he won’t be pulled over by a cop who might profile him as a trouble maker. And it’s why my daughter Jane worries constantly for her husband’s safety.
It’s also why I have mixed feelings about what’s been going on in recent days with the Black Lives Matter movement. The idea that black lives matter and the emotions engendered by the senseless and tragic murder of George Floyd are genuine. Our family has lived with the sub-current of racism since the day Jane married Mike. We know how real and hurtful it is.
So yes, I’m the father-in-law of a wonderful black man, and a grandfather to five mixed race grandchildren, including my mini-me Taysen.
I’m also the father of an extraordinarily gifted scholar and tender soul who was needlessly killed 11 years ago June 9th, on a lonely highway in Southern Utah by an over zealous and inadequately trained police officer who was armed with a Taser. Millions have seen George Floyd telling the world, “I can’t breathe” for seven or eight minutes before he died. My son Brian, who was experiencing a non-threatening mental breakdown, was dead a mere 42 seconds after the young policeman arrived on the scene. Yes, it took just 42 seconds for the officer to shock my son twice with his Taser and kill him. I know police brutality. I’ve experienced it. And I’ve lived with it now for more than a decade, often awaking in the middle of the night recalling the urgent phone call from my daughter-in-law who gave me a veritable play-by-play of her dear husband’s death as it happened.
I said I have mixed feelings about what I’ve been watching in recent days. My heart aches for the family of George Floyd. And I share feelings of anger for the rogue few in law enforcement who, for whatever reason, needlessly end the lives of those they are empowered to protect. I can understand why tens of thousands have chosen to march in protest to call attention to the undercurrent of racism and bigotry that persists in the world. But I cannot in any way see justification for violence and the rampant criminal behavior that is accompanying the protest marches. That dramatically distracts from what I consider to be legitimate concerns and justification for public assembly and protest marches.
I continue to pray that reason will prevail and that actions will be taken by all segments of society to heal the simmering wounds of racism in all of its ugly forms. And as I pray, I long for the day when my grandson Taysen will not be viewed as black or white or someone of mixed race, but genuinely as just another human being, one of God’s precious children, and that he and his loving dad will never have the worry of being profiled because of the way they look and the pigment of their skin.