Many of those who have been following me know how often I used to post about controversial political issues, but for the most part I’ve ceased doing so for nearly the past year, or pretty much around the time the presidential primaries began to heat up. My reason for doing so is I simply got tired of listening to myself and everyone else, and I refuse to add to all this ridiculous noise. One would think social media would be the ideal medium for the exchange of ideas, but all I see is people insulating themselves with their own myopic beliefs. At best, people talk past one another and dismiss entire masses as stupid; at worst, people outright threaten each other and use social media to coordinate violent acts. None of this is news to anyone, though.
Right now I want to talk about a particular person in my life, Grady Thompkins, my father (pictured left), and something most people who follow me don’t know about him. My father was a police officer years ago. But my father wasn’t just any police officer. My father was one of the best police officers the Vivian Police Department ever had. He was and continues to be a respected leader in the community. Vivian, Louisiana is a relatively small town, but my father’s accomplishments were anything but small.
As you can clearly see, my father is black. What my father was particularly known for during his time as a police officer was bridging the gap between black communities and law enforcement. In fact, he had such a talent and charisma for it that during his time on the force he was sent to special training and commissioned as Vivian Police Department’s first juvenile division officer, meaning he served as somewhat of a liaison between Vivian’s youth, particularly black youth, and the police. One of his most crucial roles in said position was serving as a counselor and a role model for many young people and helping them to avoid an unfortunate fate behind bars.
Now, as I mentioned, my father is exceptionally charismatic, but what he also greatly contributed to the Vivian Police Department and its communities was his sense of empathy, love and patience. He understood the plight of black communities because he, like much of my family, experienced firsthand the racism and challenges of growing up black. He also understood firsthand the dangers and uncertainty the women and men who protect and serve our communities face. My mother and I spent many long nights listening to the CB radio whenever a major emergency occurred, worrying whether my father would be coming home those nights. Indeed, I can recall several terrifying nights when we both anticipated bad news.
My point in posting this is foremost to honor my father who continues to be the charismatic, empathetic, patient and loving person he was as a police officer, and secondly to hopefully inspire people to actually care to understand one another. Black lives matter. Does that mean I hate the women and men in blue who serve our communities and continuously put themselves in harm’s way? For the love of God, it absolutely does not. I speak as someone who has experienced both “sides”, if you will. I’m very disappointed in the way we as a society are handling this. It’s nonsensical, and I think it’s largely due to an absolute refusal to understand one another. With all that is going on lately, it almost seems hopeless, but I can at least hope that the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. still hold true — “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.