I think I was going to write about something else today, but at the end of school, I clicked on the New York Times to scan the headlines and power down for the day.
Then, I saw this: “A Mailman Handcuffed in Brooklyn, Caught on Video.” Another one. ANOTHER ONE. What caught my eye, too, was the picture of postal carrier Glen Grays with his mother. I scrolled right on by, but stopped once I saw the photo. I clicked to open the story.
He is crying. His mother stands by his side and Glen’s eyes are red from tears.
The story describes Glen as a person who took pride in his job, who worked hard to know the people on his route, who worked a number of jobs before becoming a postal carrier. His mother has six boys and says: ““I worry about them every day, every minute, every second of every day.” Of course she does.
I have zero belief that anything will happen to the police officers who harassed and arrested Glen. I watched the video of his arrest and was heartened to see so many people recording, yelling, calling out what was wrong, speaking the truth to power. And while I’m not immune to these endless tales of Black men being arrested (or worse) unfairly, I skim the accounts for fear of thinking that this is normal. For fear that I will internalize the pathology that is so easy to assign to Blackness and to Black bodies, Black male bodies, particularly.
It is Glen’s tears, though, that keeps me returning to the picture. His mother stands by and this man who has done nothing wrong–has actually done everything right on so many levels–was humiliated, falsely accused, traumatized.
I return to the picture time and again because I must bear witness, too. Not again. Not again. I feel some sort of sick relief that he made it out of the police car alive, was not injured or found mysteriously, irrevocably harmed in a holding cell. That my mind immediately recounts a litany of abuses horrifies me because they come so quickly.
Yet, here he is, alive, with his mother at his side.
The remnants of tears on his face.
I see you, Glen. I see you.