Homer: Who Is My Neighbor?

By Matt Homer

Just in case you are inclined to believe that all of this is only about the death of black men and policing in America, it’s not.

I would encourage you to read about Sandra Bland.

Her story really gets to me. I’ve shed tears.

I think of my girls, how everything can change in a moment.

She wasn’t shot. No, she was pulled over, harassed, and arrested.

Pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. She was just letting the trooper pass who had sped up behind her. The trooper said he was suspicious.

You know the drill, out of town plates in a small Texas town. It’s a white man’s world after all. So, he sped up behind her. She didn’t signal the change. He got her.

She wasn’t suspicious. She was black. She was moving to this little town to start a new job. She was excited. It was a new start. Things had been tough.

She never got the chance.

They found her hanging in her cell. Suicide? Homicide? I don’t know.

The trooper was fired. She is dead.

She was tired. She was depressed. She was hurting. She was a proud Christian. She is gone.

I’ve said it before but you should read “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s magnificent.

The point is we have to step outside of the echo chamber, no matter your politics. Read something that shakes you. Listen to something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

It’s time we have that conversation. It’s time to sit down with our black friends and neighbors. Ask them how they feel. Ask them how they feel about us. Ask them to tell their story.

It’s time to care about their story.

A dear friend of mine, I’m not going to say her name, but she’s a mother, wife, elected official, and community leader. She is also a black woman living in America.

Let’s call her Sandra.

Sandra told me yesterday that she was proud to call me friend and she didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry.

Why? I broke my silence.

Can you imagine how deafening the silence can be? I can’t.

My friends, black America is watching. Your friends. Neighbors. Colleagues.

Our children are watching.

Speak up. Speak out. Speak with empathy.

Do we really love our neighbors as we love ourselves?

Matt Homer is a former pastor, congressional staffer, political operative who worked on both the 2016 Trump campaign and the 2012 Romney campaign, elected political official in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District, and lobbyist.

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