It’s been a few days now since the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five police officers in Dallas, and I haven’t posted anything on the site partially in an attempt to gather my thoughts. If you stroll through my social media pages, you’ll will see short blurbs and videos expressing my outrage over what has happened within the last week. However, I’ve yet to publicly state my peace on the matter. And so here I am today. Saddened by the state of this country, angered by moral hypocrisy and ignorance, and humbled to be among the living of an endangered people.
For those that know me, I’m not really an emotional guy. Sure I have emotions, but I’m the not the type to really get caught up in expressing them. I’ve never liked being in that position. I’m positive that stems from some familial things of my past, but it is what it is. Anyway, I say all that to say, that this past week I let the tears fall down my face. Seeing the vivid videos of the violent deaths of Alton and Philando just got to me. And then, watching the heartbroken reactions of their loved one. The image of Alton’s teenage son sobbing behind a podium keeps replaying in my mind. It all impacted me in a way like never before. Please don’t misunderstand me. I was distraught over Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and the countless others. But this past week, tapped into a well of frustration and pain from within.
As a black man in his late 20s, I grew up knowing both the privilege and hardship of my blackness. I take pride in knowing my skin is naturally bronzed, my hair is luxuriously thick, my lips are big and beautiful, and my curves are God given and mine. (Yes black men can have curves too LOL!) However, my blackness comes with the heavy burden of realizing that it will be the very thing that will leave me open to unwarranted ignorance, hatred, and disenfranchisement. Even with me knowing what being black means in America, I still allowed myself to be lured into this false sense of security. And I guess the murders of Alton and Philando served as a badly needed wake-up call.
Philando’s death especially, proves that you can be doing everything right in the eyes of the law, and still have a target on your back. Heck for all intent and purposes, I’m Philando. And I’ve not been able to handle that realization that well. To know you can be calm and respectful in the midst of a police stop, in a seatbelt, and have your child in the backseat, and still be murdered in cold blood, has really taken a toll on my spirit.
In 2016, you’d like to think America is a hell of a lot better than it was 50 years ago. I know I used to. Barack Obama is president, black businesses are thriving, blackness tops music charts and sells out stadiums, Shondaland is monopolizing Thursday nights, and minorities have access to anywhere a white man can go. So put in this context, we have improved since the Jim Crow days of the South. However, black men continue to be imprisoned disproportionately, continued to be painted as hyper masculine villains, and continue to be murdered “for free” by systems sworn to govern and protect all people. Black men, and in some cases boys, are being murdered by police officers, and no one has to pay the price for it. How is this fair? And how do we as a collective nation get pass this?
Now I know some may take offense to this, but please understand I’m really not attempting to be offensive, or shady. I just don’t understand what good marching in the streets does in the name of justice anymore. We marched for Trayvon. We marched for Mike Brown. We marched for Eric. And I could continue to list names for which people marched, and yet I’m still left trying to understand what good the marching did. There is always a next time. So again, what’s the point in marching in protest? If I’m honest, it’s starting to seem like an ineffective tool of acquiring justice that may have worked 50 years ago, but has become irrelevant for today.
Look, I don’t pretend to know what we should do instead of marching, but it seems like we should be doing something else. And I don’t mean seeking an eye for eye. What happened in Dallas was a travesty. Those cops had families to mourn them too. Last week I mentioned the idea of boycotting businesses so they take a stand with the cause to pressure politicians, and thankfully I see there is a movement bubbling to do just that. Some people may never care about lives being taken, but they will certainly care when their pockets aren’t getting so heavy. It’s a shame that folks have no sense of humanity and decency, but will be all about saving a people when dollar signs are involved. That’s just life.
On a final note, I want to implore folks to understand that at the end of the day, police are not the enemy in this equation. There are numerous men and women in law enforcement that do a wonderful job in upholding the badge. However, the enemy is a broken system that continues to allow the racially ignorant and insensitive access to positions of power. The system in the U.S. has been broken since it’s conception, which is why there has never been a day in this country’s history where people of color have never been disenfranchised. NEVER. We have a terrible habit of placing a Band-Aid on the bleeding wound of injustice. Then when the Band-Aid becomes soaked in bloodshed, another Band-Aid is slapped on. Enough is enough!
Today, there will be those that read this and think I’m being over cynical and not speaking with a sense of hope. For those that think that, please know that I’m not being cynical, but real. And my hope in a better future still exists, but is trapped underneath the heavy reality of what history has shown me. Until steps for REAL change is taken by our lawmakers, I’m left to operate in life with a healthy dose of pessimism and caution.
I’ll leave you all with two quotes to think on for a couple of days.
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
― Frederick Douglass
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
― Martin Luther King Jr.