George Floyd and Michael Ramos

May 31

Today’s Austin newspaper has two different stories relating to my kids. On the front of the Metro section is Ken Herman’s column hoping that the class of 2020 will be part of a new Greatest Generation; that column is accompanied by photos from our neighborhood graduation, which included Liam and a dozen or so other kids graduating high school. The front section included extensive coverage of the protests of the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Michael Ramos here in Austin, protests that both of our kids attended (and came home from with pepper spray burns).

The kids, of whom we are very proud, went there to be part of standing up against police brutality and to provide support to the voices of people of color. And they brought water and medical supplies and sunscreen and were ready to help–once camp counselors, always camp counselors. They joined their brothers and sisters in blocking I-35 and were on the receiving end of pepper spray as a result.

During the time that the kids were at the protests, I won’t pretend I wasn’t holding my breath. I watched livestreams; I followed Twitter; I watched their little dot on Find My Friends. I texted them regularly. And I was intensely aware of the fact that this sense of worry–this background noise that simply by being out, they were in danger–was something that parents of children of color have to contend with every day. I try every day to understand more the extent of the privilege we enjoy to have that basic comfort.

We recorded today’s show before basically all of this and so it doesn’t address it at all. Next week, I plan to essentially reuse the show we did after the protests and murder in Charlottesville, where I tried to put together a show featuring almost entirely artists from, as I put it then, “almost entirely music performed by artists from groups of which I am not a member: people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants.” It’ll air here in Austin basically right as we pull into our new home in Saint Paul. (We will continue to be on the air in Austin with KUTX as our flagship station, just coming from Minnesota.) I wrote about Charlottesville back then, and it still rings all too true now, three years later.

I’m not the right guy to write about this, really. I’d commend you to Claudia and Dan Zanes’s Facebook page, where they have explored these issues with such love and care, and have excellent reading recommendations (many of which I have taken). I’m just a guy with a silly radio show, but I hope that silly radio show can be a positive influence.

Black lives matter.

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