This post was written April 30, 2015
I wrote an article last semester in October, questioning if America is really post racial. Today, TIME magazine published an iconic photo of a police barricade charging towards a man fleeing during the Baltimore riots posing the question, “What has changed?” A couple of things comes to mind when seeing a photo like this or hearing about another fatality at the hands of police:
(1) What did this man do wrong? He MUST have done something wrong. If not, then why is he running? This is the first question people always ask whenever an unarmed Black man is gunned down while running from police. And I always want to reply, “Perhaps, he could be afraid for his life and trying to run to safety, idiot.”
(2) Why is he participating in the riots as if that’s going to change anything? The fact is, a large portion of protestors were in fact peaceful. They are underrepresented by the inexcusable acts of violence captured via photo and videos. Of course, those are the moments that went viral. Overall, the media typically depicts our entire race negatively (threatening, uneducated, ghetto, etc). So, that is how our race will be viewed. I can’t blame the protestors for destroying their community. What would you do if your loved one suffered an untimely death at the hands of police and the case was treated as if they didn’t mean anything. Just another person that will join the ranks of those slain. Protestors are angry and don’t know how to positively channel their emotion to bring about change. Personally, I feel that “my country” is starting to feel more and more like the country my ancestors lived in.
(3) The Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes, the comparisons to how he would have handled a time such as this. MLK was gunned down regardless of his peaceful approach and calculated tactics. Malcom X was assassinated regardless of his ambition to fight back. There is no right answer or easy fix to this problem.
(4) Why do Blacks think they are the only ones that matter? Black Lives Matter is not a call to race superiority. All lives matter, but we are trying to express the fact that we are more prone to racial profiling and mistreatment by the law. Those sworn to protect and serve need policing themselves. How can a person protect me if they are afraid of me?
(5) What constitutes deadly force? At what point do we draw the line and clarify when a person loses their right to a fair trial and instead deserves to die? I have no answers.
(6) This is bigger than doing the right thing, dressing up to par or being involved in criminal activity. The problem is when you are perceived to be a criminal before evidence is gathered justifying arrest and in the process, somewhere along the lines it turns fatal.
(7) How are you supposed to protect yourself should you have a police encounter?
I’ve had these conversations with my son, making sure he is respectful, his hands are always visible and he does not make any sudden movements. I make sure he isn’t dressed like a thug…. At this point, I have been racially profiled and more than likely my children will be. It is inevitable because of the color of our skin-I just don’t know how the profiling will end and that’s what is scary. I now view routine traffic stops as life or death situations. Because I cannot change the color of my skin, what now? It’s almost like we are stuck in a state of apartheid regardless of how much time has progressed since the Civil Rights Movement. Truth is, this is so complex it will take years to reverse what has been the cause of centuries- long racism, economic disparities, amongst many other problems.
To answer my question about America being post racial….No. We just cover it up like we are until things boil over exposing the true feelings of everyone hiding behind their position of power, influence and authority. Social media is the new grounds for racial divide and tension as people discuss sensitive topics. Blacks are already socially and economically disadvantaged at life, why must we lead the statistics for deaths? #Blacklivesmatter is a call for change. It’s an outcry of people young and old begging for the equality that was promised to them. Instead, freedom was given in exchange for institutionalized modern day slavery.
Free at last, free at last, I pray to God Almighty that we can be free at last.
Photo By Devin Allen