My husband made me cry yesterday, and no, they were not tears of joy. They were tears filled with sadness, anger and exhaustion. With the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd weighing heavily on my heart, I decided to ask my husband something I never have before, but definitely should more often. I asked him how he felt. I had an idea of what his response might be, but I still wasn’t prepared for it.
His first answer was that he was fine. (Why is that always everyone’s initial reaction?) Then he began to tell me how tired he was and started recounting the many times he’s experienced racism and discrimination over the years. He even opened up about all of the extra precautions he has to take just for being a black man; like being careful not to look at a white woman’s purse while in a store checkout line, so she doesn’t think he’s trying to rob her, or not stopping in front of houses while he’s going for a jog through neighborhoods so he doesn’t seem suspicious, and his list went on and on.
This brief conversation with him about his experiences literally brought me to tears. Suddenly, I emphathized with black men in a way I never have before. To be honest, I always worry about my husband not returning home from a jog, wondering if his hoodie makes him look like he’s “up to no good”, and praying that his bright orange running shoes make him seem less “threatening”. But I’ll never experience how exhausting it is for my black husband to put on those shoes, not knowing if he’s taking them on a run for leisure or if he’s going to have to run for his life.