On most mornings, when my daughter Hannah (5) wakes up she comes right into my room to wake me up. Melissa is usually downstairs knitting or reading after a morning workout, so this is just daddy-daughter time.
Her routine is that she wakes me up, then she feeds the dog, and then she climbs into bed and we just chat for a few minutes before we start the day.
For my part of the routine I try to make sure to give her eye contact as I smile and tell her good morning. When she climbs into bed I always ask her how she slept and if she had any dreams.
Something to know about me is that I love to dream. In this case, I mean the involuntary imaginative scenes that happen when you are sleeping. I just love dreaming.
By asking about her dreams each morning, I guess I’m trying to encourage her to explore her own dreams. Sometimes she tells me about dreams that she had, but mostly she says she can’t remember having any. I think it seems common that people don’t remember having dreams, so I don’t think anything of it when she doesn’t have any dream to share with me.
“How did you sleep Dada?” she’ll always ask me in response to my questions.
“I got good sleep.” is my usual answer.
“Did you have any dreams?” she’ll ask.
And if I did, I delight in sharing with her the details that I can recall.
Three nights ago I woke up just before she came into the room and I knew I wouldn’t be able to share my dream with her. This dream was a nightmare that felt too traumatic to explain to a five year old.
After having watched the video footage of Caron Nazario (US Army 2nd Lt.) being demeaned, pepper sprayed, and having his life threatened by a police officer for a license plate stop… I spent that day thinking about it and subsequently had a dream about the events. In my dream I was witnessing the scene on a loop - and I could feel the tension arising in me each time he was about to get out of the car because I was afraid he was going to be murdered. Just before that answer became clear the scene would start over, and I’d be at the start of the interaction again where the officers were threatening him and pepper spraying him inside his own car.
I hadn’t even finished processing the news of a uniformed military officer nearly dying at the hands of yet another poorly trained and racist cop when we started digging into this week’s news of Daunte Wright being murderred by a police officer in Minnesota.
Looking at this young man who looks like he could be my little brother, with his son who is just a little younger than my son… I keep thinking about how he knew he could die when he got stopped by a police officer. He called his mom to tell her he’s being pulled over. This is the same instinct that 2nd Lt. Nazario had when he set up his phone on his dashboard to record his interaction with the officer who was pulling him over.
Do others have that instinct?
As black men we know our lives are at risk when we interact with the police. We have been trained to know that these government officials are not subject to any justice system, and we know that they can strip us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if they see fit.
The fact that they are quick to enact violence on our bodies (whether by gun or taser or knee) is core to the problem, and this is exactly what keeps us in fear. Unless the goal of policing is to maintain a dehumanizing fear of death in the hearts and minds of people of color, then policing in America is clearly broken.
Daunte Wright should be alive.
I shouldn’t have to go to sleep praying that I don’t have more nightmares of state sponsored violence that I can’t tell my daughter about in the morning.
I don’t know what else to say today.
A couple of suggestions for you:
You might research “qualified immunity” and why some cities and states are removing it as a defense of police officers.
If you’re looking for a small but specific way to take action, you might donate to a GoFundMe set up by Daunte’s aunt to help the family get through what is to come.
Next week I’ll get back to discussing the Georgia voting law and more updates on fundraising & bread sales.
Thanks for being community.