The following is by Writers in the Grove leader, Mary Jane Nordgren, inspired by Prompt: I Fit the Description.
Quiet. Shaking, but not challenging, not running – just standing and taking it. But shaken, and it could have been any one of us stopped and questioned by the police.
Unless we are known, and respected, our words are not accepted as true. We are vulnerable by virtue of decisions we made while having no way of knowing they might matter. Accused because of what we chose to wear to work that morning.
I chose a brown knit shirt today, not knowing that a gray-haired lady in a brown knit shirt hit a child this morning with her car and drove away without stopping. Could I have stood quietly allowing suspicion to surround me? Could I have waited in silence for ten minutes, forty-five minutes as patrol cars hemmed me in and others circled the block again and again? Could I have held without arguing or crying or answering in anger while the only person in support was a woman far down the block who did not know me, but at least appeared concerned?
I am frightened of suspicion. It disintegrates all trust. What is safe? Where is safety? How can we develop trust in a world of “them?” In a world where I am a grayed-haired lady in a brown knit shirt? Can I count on that crime always to have been committed in Maryland and not Oregon where I live? How do we build community that shelters each of us, gives each of us credence despite our unwitting choices? How can I help?
Simply because I am one of the majority, I must remember that fear emasculates belief in self-worth, in security. I dare not sigh in relief – it may be me, next time.