I am compelled to articulate my opinion concerning Black Lives Matter so that my family, friends, and community clearly understand where I stand on the issue. I am a 68-year-old white, blue eyed, male.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and being kidnapped from my home country, transported across an ocean while shackled in deplorable conditions.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and sold to a white man who enslaves me with no financial reparation and forces me to work countless hours a day with little sleep or food and water with no medical care and being whipped countless times. Completely being stripped of all basic human rights and dignity.
I do not know what it feels like being an enslaved Black female and being raped by my owner over and over.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and having to use a separate bathroom or drinking fountain.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and having to ride in the back of the bus. I do not know what it feels like being Black and having to explain to three young Black children what the significance of the Rosa Parks public bus display at the Memphis Civil Rights Museum is about.
However, I do know what it feels like listening to the Black man’s explanation, with me standing close to them and crying as he stands there masterfully outlining the history behind it to them.
I do know what I felt like meeting Rosa Parks on MLK day in 1993. What a courageous person she was for not riding in the back of the bus in the days of segregation.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and losing your loved one after being shot to death for their attempts in creating social justice for all. I do know what it feels like to stand at the very spot where Martin Luther King Jr. crumbled to the floor and died.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and having to use The Green Book to find hotel and food accommodations for Blacks only while traveling.
I do not know what if feels like to be lynched by people in white robes and hoods, calling themselves Christians, when they are actually the oldest hate group in the United States.
I do not know what it feels like to be Black while driving, banking, attempting to obtain a mortgage, renting a home or looking at houses while the white neighbors are watching suspiciously, being followed by neighborhood Block Watch groups.
I do not know what it feels like shopping in Walmart and being followed by the loss prevention security. I do not know what it feels like to be a victim of a hate crime.
I do know what it felt like to watch George Floyd murdered by the hands of several police officers without any regard for his life.
I do know what it is like to watch police officers mow over a 75-year-old man (a BLM protester), knocking him to the ground, causing a head injury resulting in his hospitalization, when he was the only person standing in the way of their march toward a group of protesters.
I do know, as a retired law enforcement officer, that I would have not stood by and allowed Mr. Floyd to die.
Nor would I have knocked a 75-year-old man to the ground and not rendered aide.
I do know for certain that I would have knelt in honor of BLM whenever possible.
I do not know what it feels like being Black and living in “all white Tukee” – a term I learned years ago from a Black friend of mine.
I do know what it feels like when a Black man asked me if I was comfortable having him as a neighbor, but I do not know what a Black man felt like asking such a question.
I do know what it felt like when I said nothing and merely opened my arms to embrace him with a hug.
I do know what it feels like to listen to my new friend and neighbor tell me how she had to educate her teenage son on how to deal with the police to keep himself safe.
Our conversations have helped enlighten me on what it is like to live as a Black person in our United States, where all people are supposed to be equal.
I do know what it feels like to say that I will stand up for the rights of people of color until the day I take my last breath.
Any two random human being’s DNA is 99.9 percent identical and therefore we are all related. I do know what it feels like to say, “enough is enough.”
Christopher Gentis is a retired Phoenix Police lieutenant and was a member of the Ahwatukee Board of Management board of directors.