The Forgotten Hero

James was exhausted. Yesterday, his best friend, Ty, was murdered. He was familiar with the headlines by now: Racist Officer Kills Unarmed Black Man. This time the silence was deafening. No one protested for his black friend’s life. Barely anyone even mentioned it. Ty fought prejudices his entire life. But in the end, a prejudice is what killed him. 

James remembered a time when they worked together at a fast-food restaurant in High School. An older white man walked up to order but refused to let either of them help him. James was so upset, but Ty looked at him and said, “Becoming angry doesn’t help anything. We have to find a way to SHOW these people that we are deserving of respect.”

 Ty graduated as Valedictorian of their High School class. He got a full scholarship to college, where he also graduated at the top of his class. They all expected him to become a doctor or lawyer, but he took a different path. James was surprised at his choice. But Ty put his arm on James’s shoulder and said, “How else are we supposed to change people’s opinion?”

Two years after Ty graduated from college, he met his wife. James was the best man at his wedding. In the next few years, they had three kids: two girls and one boy. Ty spent every free minute with his family. James had to hang out with his kids, to hang out with Ty. He taught James how to change dirty diapers. James told Ty that it was his wife’s job. He smiled and said, “She oversees the intake. While I’m in charge of the out.” 

Last week James sent him a message telling him how worried James was for him. Ty said, “I can’t worry about what could go wrong. I can only focus on the good I can create.” Yesterday, James received the worst phone call of his life. Ty’s wife told him that he was on patrol when a riot broke out because a bad cop somewhere far away killed an unarmed black man. Ty responded to a store that was being vandalized. When he arrived, he saw a man beating up a weaponless woman that was trying to protect her livelihood. 

He told the man to stop when the man pulled a gun on him and shot him. A black life that didn’t matter after all. “They are only fighting prejudice with more prejudice.” She said, “and that prejudice is against good cops. They assume they are all bad because of a few that are. But that is what they are fighting for themselves too. It doesn’t make sense. They can’t just assume someone is bad based on group affiliation, whether it be skin color or place of employment. That is the definition of prejudice.” 

“It’s the pot calling the kettle black,” James responded.

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