Dear Police Officer's Wife, We Both Fear For Our Husbands' Lives
An open letter from the wife of a Black man to the wife of a police officer.
Dear Police Officer’s Wife,
I saw your quote: "My husband is a police officer. I fear for his life every time he leaves for work." Here's the thing — your quote works for my husband but for different reasons. My husband is a Black man. I fear for his life every time he leaves the house.
We’re not so different, you and I. We both love our husbands and want them to be safe. Neither of us want to lose the father of our children, our life partners, our lovers. We are both scared right now; I get that. The relationship between Black people and law enforcement is severely broken in this country. We’re all left with a multitude of feelings.
I am sure your husband has been treated poorly in ways you will never understand, just as mine has. Yours has probably had a gun drawn on him, just like mine has by the police. Your husband has probably been called horrendous names and judged solely based on his uniform just as mine has experienced the same based on the color of his skin. We both lose sleep and worry about them because that’s what good wives do.
I’d bet that when you married a cop you had no idea what that truly meant. I assume he doesn’t even tell you the half of it because it would terrify you. What if I told you that I feel the exact same way being married to a Black man? I don’t fully comprehend what my husband experiences because I am white, just as you don’t fully comprehend because you are not an officer. We are both left in the dark at times, and that is the most frightening part of all — the unknown.
I don’t doubt that your husband is a good man with the best of intentions. If you saw mine, a large Black man on the street, would you have doubt? My husband doesn’t hate the police, but he has learned in his life not to trust them. I’m sure, if you asked your husband if he hated Black people he would say, “No, of course not!” Does he trust them, though? There is so much mistrust and that causes fear. It’s that fear that is so often confused with hate. Hate is a powerful word and I refuse to believe that there is truly so much of it.
I’ll make you a promise, if you can make one to me. The mistrust and the hate end with us. We can change this; at least I hope we can. See, our kids have no comprehension of what is happening in our society right now. So, let’s teach our kids to love. You teach yours not to mistrust a person based on skin color and I’ll teach mine not to mistrust the badge.
We’ve come a long way in our society. For starters, not long ago, my marriage would have been illegal and my husband would not have been able to vote. So, I suppose certain things have changed, but we still have so much work left to do.
It’s our job as parents to not pass on the mistrust and the hatred. Those emotions are not innate, but are learned, and we are the teachers. It is our responsibility. Our children both stand to lose their fathers in very violent ways, but let’s not allow that fear to bring about ignorant hatred.
My son thinks cops are heroes; he’s obsessed. I refuse to tell him that not all people agree with that notion. I will teach him to respect officers and follow directions. Will you teach yours to respect people of all colors? I will teach my children to be proud of their African American heritage and their beautiful skin tone. Will you teach yours not give my children reasons to doubt themselves? We need to teach our children to embrace one another’s cultural differences because I have seen firsthand how amazing it can be when different cultures come together.
The last time I checked, we only have one planet that can sustain human life. We’re all here, for better or for worse. Society has come a long way, but recent events have magnified the work we have yet to do. It is our job. We hold all the responsibility. If our community still looks this way when our children are adults, it will have been our fault. I think we can do much better and it starts at home.
I am scared. You are scared. I believe the energy from this fear can be put to good use. We are so much alike, my sister, because at the end of the day, we are all just human. I will do my very best to ensure a better future for all our kids, if you promise to do the same.
Wife of a Black man