Sunday, January 25, 2015

Introductions are in order!  Meet my first great-grandchild, Patrick Kayden Hebert!

... weighing in at 8 lbs 13 ounces,  and from this photo, the resemblance to his late great-grandfather, Mel, and his grandfather, David, is clearly evident. 

It's at a precious moment like this -- within the first 12 hours of his birth to my eldest granddaughter, Kokee Amanda Reid -- "Ms. Hermione Ginglehopper",  and her partner, Patrick, that I find myself wondering if we've prepared a proper place in the world for this brand new little American -- another young black male -- at a time when we're still sorting out whether or not there is room in our world for new males of his race and generation, and whether or not our justice system -- so riddled with imperfections -- will be better able to accommodate them than we've been willing to do over the past century?

On February 25th I've been invited by our truly remarkable Police Chief Chris Magnus to conduct a 90-minute workshop on race relations for his department.  This, as a followup to the continuing street protests occurring across the nation related to Ferguson and New York questionable police shootings. In my acceptance of this great honor, the not yet born Patrick played a major role.  Just maybe -- in this fast-changing young West Coast Bay Area (re-awakening?) city it still may be possible to play a small part in the making of those critical changes to our justice system that may effect little Patrick's destiny over the next decade.    Now that would be a significant legacy, would it not?

There are ways in which I feel totally inadequate to what is being asked of me.  I'm clearly not a trained "trainer" in race relations any more than I am a historian, but a private person sharing an oral history with a public that seems eager and ready to go back with me in time to own the truth as it was lived, apologize for any wrongs as may be appropriate, and then to move forward, together, into a more caring and humane future.  The content of my 90 minute presentation will be simply a re-application of the program offered in our little theater at the Visitor Education Center -- but maybe that's quite enough.  It's what I know.  But if love and hope are firmly embedded in that work, perhaps it's the best I (or anyone else for that matter) can offer in a persistently troubled  nation and world.

If we each contribute what we can to this latest pulsation in the on-going struggle against racial-profiling, undeserved and often unjustified incarceration; and for fairness in the distribution of resources; etc., than could be offered to young black and brown males before now -- then I can't afford to underestimate the importance of any opportunity to effect how we move forward into this future that now holds my great-grandson, Patrick.

Patrick's birth cannot be allowed to be seen as that of a perpetrator!  He is entering life as a much-loved little citizen who is carrying the hopes and dreams of a family who needs the support of society in order to gradually unfold the gifts that he may have brought with him into our  deeply troubled world.

Patrick Kayden Hebert's life matters!