An Apology To The Kid at the Grocery Store: A Commentary on Race Relations

Apology To The Kid at the Grocery Store:

I looked for you. I wanted to apologize, but you were already gone. I blew my top, I blew it bad. I yelled at you. Violently.

Violence is never okay.

Maybe you had it coming for yelling at my kid. Maybe my kid had it coming for stepping in front of you. Doesn't matter.

Violence is never okay. 

What I should have done was ask if you were okay. Because you seemed distracted. Hurried. You were looking the other way and you were moving quickly when my son stepped off the cart and stood in the aisle. I bet your adrenaline gushed out of your brain and right out of your mouth. Because you were angry with him and you yelled at him. I know that feeling because it happened to me just seconds later.

I bet you were afraid. His presence probably shocked you back into consciousness. Those kids have done that to me a million times. In fact they have done it to me a million times today, because today I was consumed with the news in Baltimore. I was consumed with everyone's reaction. Which made me think...is that how that officer felt? Afraid. Did his gush of adrenaline cause a reaction that he can't take back? I bet he was afraid. Sometimes when you are already running and your heart is pumping the gush flows faster to your hands than to your brain. But fear isn't a good enough reason because...

Violence is never okay. 

Maybe you were frustrated. Kids are just so like that, am I right? You were in a hurry, trying to get to work, to class? Maybe you have to deal with impetuous kids like mine every. single. time. you come to the grocery store. He made a rash choice to step into the aisle. And you being a kid just trying to get his grocery shopping done made rash choice to yell at him.

Violence is never okay. 

It had to be something because anger is a secondary emotion, and we both got mad. The point is, I didn't ask, because I didn't care. I just lashed out at you.

Violence is never okay. 

You looked surprised. Me standing in the grocery aisle in my cardigan with flowers on my shoes. You had a reason to be surprised, I don't normally do that. But it doesn't matter to you that I've never done it to anyone else, because YOU were the one I did it to. I yelled at you.

I was afraid. It was cold yesterday, and pretty chilly this morning and I couldn't get my son to keep his hood off of his head. You see, he is from Uganda so he doesn't like to be cold. But he can also mean-mug like no kid I've ever seen so I wanted to nip that habit in the bud lest anyone judge him on his appearance. Because, as you know, he's black. You couldn't have know that I had been fussing at him for two days and that it had caused frustration and annoyance all over our house. All this tension got to me and I got mad, and anger, after all, is a secondary emotion. But fear isn't a good enough reason, because...

Violence is never okay. 

I felt helpless. Because the headline said that guy ran. Which doesn't mean much to you, but one time, I had to kick off my shoes and run down three flights of stairs in a skirt in an un-air conditioned courthouse because my kid is runner. He spent the first four years of his life in survival mode, that means when his adrenaline gushes, he doesn't yell, he runs. We are working with him, in fact, you might not believe this, but my baby boy has more self-control than any five year old I know. And yet...when he's scared, he runs. But I yelled at you for it.

Violence is never okay. 

So dear sweet boy whose age I'm sure ends with the word "teen." I'm sorry. I should have set the example.

I should have sincerely asked questions and listened. 

I should have explained myself calmly. 

I should have stood my ground with fear and forced you to stand instead of storming off. 

It can't possibly be that neither of us were to blame, but more likely both of us were to blame. If we both feel the weight of injustice, we both need to work toward solutions.

With my most sincere apology,

Kaylie Hodges

To  my sweet friends and family. I bet you can already tell that this goes much deeper than just a heartfelt apology. I'm hurting today in ways that I can't possibly get into words.

Anger really isn't the first thing anyone has been feeling. There are a whole lot of people who are living with helplessness and frustration and lately it has exploded into anger. Violence is never okay, but as the people of God we need to comfort the feeling behind the anger. Hear my heart cry on this one:

Ignoring the Fear, the Frustration, the Helplessness, and the Insecurity will only breed more anger. Getting angry and self-righteous ourselves will only make the cycle spiral faster. 

Stop it. Now. 

Choose love.

CHOOSE LOVE. 

Choose hope.

CHOOSE HOPE. 

Choose humility.

CHOOSE HUMILITY. 

This really isn't about a specific circumstance, just like my yelling match with the kid at the grocery store wasn't. We both had histories, we both had junk we were dealing with, we both felt oppressed.  This is about a picture bigger than we can see. 

So many officers are struggling with confusion, fear, and guilt of taking lives. Can we please pray for them?

So many kids (black or otherwise, but specifically under the oppression of race relations) are growing up in survival mode and don't stand a chance.

Can we do something about that?

My friend Tiffany challenged me this morning:

"What are YOU doing to make a difference in YOUR community? You serving at the boys and girls club? You mentoring young people? Putting time in at the Salvation Army? Making sure you are impacting YOUR community?"

The fact is My runner does stand a chance, but he will grow up in strange in-between world of privilege that many like him will never experience and judgement that many who don't know him will condemn him for. I have to live with the fear of what those consequences might bring.

If you think I'm above violence, your wrong. Because today I only yelled, but I wanted to hit and I wanted to throw things. Because not one single bit of it is fair.

Because violence is never okay. And that applies to everyone. 

"In your anger do not sin." Ephesians 4:26

But neither is standing for injustice. 

A world where mama's having to beg their sons to take their hoods off in the chill of the evening? That's not just. Please think about that as you move forward in these conversations.

"Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all things." Proverbs 28:5

In the coming days can we try our hardest to have hope when there is none? Can we try to listen and be kind in all situations to all people? Can we go to the dark places to root out the cause of our anger and bring it up to the light? The LIGHT.

The LIGHT. 

"Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:20