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Perspective: A Multiracial Family From Lexington On Racism, Injustice And Protests

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Cheri Lawson
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Jada,Maya,Gordon and Patti Meads pose for a family picture in their Lexington home.

Fifty-one-year-year old Gordon Meads is African-American. He’s sitting next to his wife Patti who is half Caucasian and half Puerto Rican and their daughters, 18-year-old Jada and 15-year-old Maya at their Lexington home. Gordon recalls seeing the video of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after being pinned at the neck by a white police officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes.

“I think as I watched it, I think just the other officers not doing anything, and just, they were so nonchalant about squeezing the life out of someone, and I was thinking that could be me, that could be them,” said Gordon.

Gordon said he’s very direct with his girls as children of an African-American father and half Caucasian, half Puerto Rican mother. He’s repeated these words to his daughters more than once.

“You have a different walk in life. You’re half white, you’re half Black but you’re neither. You belong to both but you belong to neither. You have a different walk than I have, a different walk than your mother has. But the color of your skin is how people see you.”

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Credit Cheri Lawson
Gordon Meads is emotional talking about the impact on him of seeing the video of the killing of George Floyd.

In their kitchen, mom, Patti is bringing out a strawberry swirl cheesecake to celebrate Jada’s graduation from Bryan Station High School. The family explains how they typically joke around a lot. The joking they think can keep things a little lighter when emotions run high.

The family moves to the side porch. There’s less laughter as Patti tells how she knows she experiences white privilege based on her outward appearance.  

“I will never see the world like my children and my husband see the world.  I never worry when I go to a store that someone’s following me. I never worry when I see a police officer that I could be killed for just existing,” said Patti.

Since the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, the emotions in the Meads’ home have ranged from anger to sadness, especially for eighteen-year-old Jada. She said there’s been a lot of sadness just learning about these people who were killed.

“Like George Floyd had just recovered from Coronavirus, that he had a daughter, just the humanity of these people. These were people, they were scared. Their last few moments weren’t looking at people they loved. That could have been my dad. It just terrifies you,” said Jada.

Jada said her mom is helping her manage her emotions by listening to Jada and encouraging her to take a break from social media so her spirit isn’t overwhelmed. Jada said the family has participated in two protests in Lexington so far and that’s helpful to her. She said it’s especially helpful that her dad has marched with her at the protests.

“Just so that I can see I’m not alone in this feeling of anger and fear and hope for a change in our community,” said Jada.

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Credit Cheri Lawson
The family takes a break from news and social media to celebrate Jada's graduation from high school.

Fifteen-year-old  Maya recorded on her phone some of the chanting from one of the protests where she took photos. Maya says the news of unarmed Black people being killed isn’t new to her but for some reason this time she’s more emotional.

“I guess now it’s starting to click, this just doesn’t make sense. I guess racism, in general, just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Maya.

She tells about signs other people carried at the protests which stood out to her.

“ 'I Can’t Breathe', and 'Black Lives Matter' really hit me. 'I Can’t Breathe' is such simple words but such an emotional sickening thing to me and then 'Black Lives Matter,' it just makes me think, why wouldn’t they? Like, why do we have to stand here and chant this?” Maya asked.

Gordon Meads says one of the changes he would like to see is a mechanism in place whereby police officers who are following the rules and doing the right thing can be rewarded for pointing out police who are acting inappropriately and breaking the rules.

For now, Gordon, Patti, Jada, and Maya Meads will continue to do what they can to denounce racial injustice and promote awareness and equality.

Interest in the term “white privilege” has reportedly increased since the recent worldwide protests denouncing racial injustice. Carol Taylor-Shim, director of Bias Incident Support Services at the University of Kentucky in the office of Academic and Student affairs spoke briefly with Cheri Lawson about the term “white privilege.”

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Danielle Meadows-Stinnett shares her perspective on racism, injustice, and protests as a black woman married to a white man, Kevin. They have three children. Ellington is ten years old and he is black. Michael  is thirteen years old and he is white. Miles is thirteen years old and he is biracial. Danielle is six months pregnant. Cheri Lawson spoke with Danielle.

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