Last night a friend said that Republicans are Democrats who have been robbed and that Democrats are Republicans who have been imprisoned. I woke this morning remembering a time 4 years ago when, after attending an inspirational Martin Luther King celebration in Oakland, I discovered that my car window had been smashed and all items of value had been stolen, including my beloved Ray Bans, GPS, a lovely shell covered business card holder from Japan, and my cell phone. As I drove home, carefully straddling broken glass, I pondered what to do. I didn’t have enough money to get a new window. This was my first new car, and I was incredibly proud. It had been keyed after only 2 months in Ashland, Oregon and seemed like a magnet for vandals, its glossy black exterior begging for sabotage.
I have since had my laptop stolen from my car while parked in the driveway of my safe Sunnyvale neighborhood where I’d left my house unlocked most of my life. I remembered my family’s trauma when our plane tickets to Michigan and my mom’s jewelry had been stolen. I was 10 at the time, and it was a real blow to us, as my parents had had to supplement their meager incomes with government food aid, which we appreciated and never took for granted.
But these losses have not changed my view that the criminal justice system in this country is anything but just, nor that the militarization of the police has had a crippling effect on the poor, dispossessed, and African American and Latino communities in this country. Being burgled did not turn me into a law and order partisan. What shapes and influences core beliefs I do not know. Suffice it to say that despite my friend’s prediction, I have not become a Republican.