Last week I wrote an article about how we, white people need to check on our black friends. missykuester.com/check-on-your-black-friends-they-are-not-okay/. They need to know we care and we want to see change. It’s been a time of uncomfortable but needed conversations. In those conversations, we didn’t dwell on specifics but spoke of overall racism, their personal experiences, and how to spark change. Not one of those people spoke ill of police officers in general but focused on the recent cases and those specific police officers.
I was then prompted to check on my friends who are married to police officers or Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). They needed to know that I don’t think their spouses are bad cops. When I reached out to my LEO friends, they responded with grace and poured out their hearts.
If I have to explain to you that I can simultaneously support black people and police officers than that requires more conversation and another post. I will continue to champion for my black and brown friends who are experiencing systematic racism. Remember, I’m just someone who wants us all to sit at the same table. (Have you heard about Missy Kuester?).
Here are the stories of my LEO friends, in their own words. I felt as though their own words were more impactful than anything I could have written. I have excluded their names and any identifying information. I have also edited some conversations due to grammar and length.
Touch enough lives to bring change and make a different future
“My husband and I married on June 17, 1989. He was a State Trooper. We live in rural Indiana and at the time thoughts of his safety were fleeting. It was different. I had a person ask me once don’t you worry about him and I said “No, nothing like that happens here.” I knew he was aware of his surroundings and people liked him because he respected them. He talked to them and treated all of the people he arrested with respect and patience. You rarely heard of police shootings. You think it won’t happen to you or yours.”
“Now as a mother of a police officer, I fear all the time. I pray for him every night. My son called me last night and told me he’s been working every night to help keep calm during the protests. Last night a teenage white girl yelled in his face, yelled the F word in his face. He kept calm. It was the older black lady that told her to watch her language. She said that is not the reason they were there. It is a different time. My heart hurts for our country but I hope that the wives and mothers of police officers feel the pride I feel of my husband and son. We know we have good men who want to protect all the people. My hope is my husband and my son touch enough lives to bring change and make a different future where we don’t fear for the officers and certainly not for the black families and their children.”
Protecting their community
“There is fear that your spouse may not return from work and then add in this craziness. All they are doing is just trying to do their job by protecting their community. I worry not only for my spouse, but every police officer that has to deal with the everyday stresses and this just adds even more stress to their plates. I can’t imagine going to work and having to fear for my life. Like everything in this world, there are good and bad…does that mean every one of the police is bad…no. There are good and bad in all races across the nation. We have friends of all races/nationalities. I have two cousins that are married to different races. We love them both and they are treated no differently than any other. I just wish we as a nation could all just get along and be decent human beings.”
This is all too much
“Good God, this is all just too much.”
I’m a strong woman, Lord, but I really am done. I think most people would agree with that statement, but for me, really it couldn’t be truer.
I send my husband, out to do his duty as a local county sheriff’s deputy, just like I sent him out for 23 years to protect and serve in the military.
I stay back to provide a safe sanctuary for our children. To continue my own work in my professions. I manage the household, making sure that everyone has what they need and that my husband can come home from work after a full shift plus who knows how many hours of overtime, only to sleep and then get up to do it all over again.
I’m not mentioning all of this to garner “kudos” or pity, but just to point out that the work to keep the home fires burning has to be done by someone, and for 26+ years that has been me.
And then I have to dwell on my own thoughts about the protests and what it means to have “white privilege” and how do I feel about sending my LEO out into the world to do his duty to protect. And where am I on “Black Lives Matter” and does that movement really stand for what I believe, do they hate cops and if so, how do I rectify my feelings about police brutality with my feelings of pride for the work my husband does every day he heads out the door. And then I have to put my educator hat on to think about how all kids feel in my classroom. Do I make sure that children of color feel as valued as all others? What do I do to teach and honor everyone’s’ story?
Good God, this is all just too much.
But, THANK God, I rest in His care. THANK God, I have a husband who loves me deeply and two boys who want to make sure I am okay. THANK God I have family and friends who check-in. And THANK God it isn’t always like this.
Because, Good God, this is all just too much.
I see you my LEO friends
I’ll be honest, I cried when I read each of these messages. I wept for my LEO friends who I know are some of the best people God put on this earth. Their intentions are noble and just. I wept with them just like I wept with my friends of color who are hurting. I’ve heard a lot lately about being a bridge for racial unity. https://bethebridge.com/ is just one of the many resources. I guess that’s what I hope to be. My list of friends is diverse and if I would have a party I want all of my friends to be invited.
I had this thought as I sat down to write:
What do I tell my black and brown friends if I don’t speak up for them?
What do I tell my Jewish friends if I don’t speak up for them?
What do I tell my LGBTQ friends if I don’t speak up for them?
What do I tell my Christian friends if I don’t speak up for them?
What do I tell my friend who has been sexually assaulted if I don’t speak up for them?
What do I tell my friends who are at a disadvantage if I don’t speak up for them?
(The list goes on and you get my point.)
And what do I tell my friends who are married to the good cops if I don’t speak up for them?
Check on your LEO friends and make sure they are okay too.