I was behind a young mother in the store earlier. She had three sons, about 2, 6 and 8 and she was doing an admirable job of keeping them under control. The older ones unloaded the shopping cart while the youngest quietly watched his mom on the phone telling someone she’d “be right back to take care of it.” She seemed weary but handled the scene with grace and ease. I looked at the two oldest, it brought to mind the two young men — Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — who’d been unlawfully shot by officers in the past 24 hours. This strong mother was raising three young black men not knowing what would become of them in tomorrow’s society. No one with eyes open can pretend they’ll have equal opportunity in our lifetime. No matter how good a mother she is, no matter how good a person they grow up to be, because of the color of their skin. I felt great shame. When her groceries were tallied, I handed the cashier cash saying, “May I, please? Seeing you with your boys gives me hope for our next generation. Thank you.” And I meant it. I was grateful for the chance to lighten her load for at least the moment, perhaps to create a happy story to tell later, perhaps give a reminder that good and bad exists side by side. But I could tell she knew that. The timing was synchronistic. I seldom carry cash on me but I’d just returned from the bank where I’d cashed my $15 check for jury duty as well as a $100 donation check someone had gifted me. I never expected either amount, and would typically have deposited it rather than cashing it, so since everything was falling into place, I figured it was her money anyway.
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