I was born in a hospital in Detroit and I’ve lived in its suburbs for most of my life. Although I love it here, there’s a dark thread running through the fabric of the area. Some call it racism. That’s not what I call it. Don’t get me wrong, racism exists. It’s rampant and it’s ugly. But there’s something else going on disguised as racism. And it’s distracting us from the real problem.
I was assaulted when I was in high school. I was lucky enough to get away before I was badly hurt. The neighbor I went to school with wasn’t so lucky. Driving home from work one evening, he was attacked in his car while stopped at a traffic light. I don’t remember how long he was hospitalized.
My best friend had her car window smashed out with a crowbar. That’s how they unlocked the doors. After a brutal sexual assault, they used the crowbar on her head. I went to the hospital soon after it happened. I remember her clothes and hair were covered with blood and shattered glass.
I vaguely remember other tragedies, but not enough to go into detail. A classmate’s older brother shot at a gas station. A friend mugged and beaten walking home from work.
More recently a good friend of my daughter’s was attacked. Her jaw was wired shut and her eye socket crushed. Healing and rehabilitation took months and many surgeries. Will the psychological wounds ever heal?
Earlier this year a clerk was shot in a local gas station in broad daylight. When two young boys went in to buy some pop, they discovered the body. My son and daughter happened to be driving by that gas station just as the police arrived.
Now let’s talk about another resident of the Detroit suburbs, Steven Utash, whom I’ve never met and many have never heard of. Utash, a 54 year-old-man weighing 155 pounds, accidentally hit a ten year-old boy with his truck. He got out of the truck to check on the boy, who was not seriously injured. Utash, on the other hand, was attacked by a mob of thirteen to twenty men. He was so severely injured that doctors put him in a medically induced coma for TEN days. The few men caught taking part in the bloody rampage will spend less time in jail than Utash will spend recuperating.
Now we’ll have a quiz of sorts. What color did you imagine the people you were reading about? Be honest with yourself. Nobody else will know your answer. Have you heard of Steven Utash? Michael Brown? Should the color of any single person mentioned above have any bearing on anything?
Here are the stats: With the exception of Michael Brown and the Middle Eastern gas station attendant, all of the victims were white. The guy who assaulted me was white. The rest of the attackers were black. This is not meant to imply all violence is done by one race of people, or that I condone violence against certain races. This is simply my experience.
We can allow ourselves to ask these questions: Where is the outrage for these innocent victims? What if the skin color had been reversed? What if Steven Utash was black and his assailants white? Or Michael Brown white and the police officer black?
But that’s focusing on the wrong issue.
The problem here isn’t black or white. It’s violence. It’s crime and punishment.