How many more times must I wake up, turn on CNN, attempt to enjoy my breakfast as my blasted dog begs for it, and feel accosted by the images of another unarmed Black American shot and murdered by law enforcement?
My heart aches because we live in fear and we live in a dangerous country.
Too often we point the finger at other countries with problems. And, we readily point out issues when people of a particular religious group are mistreated. However, on the issue of race relations, White Americans (not all), are the only group of individuals that claim race issues in American do not exist. Several times on social media, I’ve been questioned regarding my views. The debate tends to always end with “Do you always think that race is a factor? These issues happen to White people too!”
And the answer is always “Yes”. Yes, I do believe that race is always a factor. I also believe that gender and socioeconomics are a factor as well. The way minorities, and women, and the poor are perceived and treated in US is mindboggling. But still yet, we claim there are no issues. The issues are elsewhere because this is the land of the free. The home of the Brave. And the Brave die young with several rounds of bullets–if you are Black.
I recall living in Jamaica, Queens many years ago. I had prided myself in always finding the cheap(er) apartments. I don’t remember the price, but I do remember it was a great deal especially for the space. I also remember it was 2 blocks from the airtrain, and one block from a (what would soon become a famous) stripclub.
Living in Jamaica, Queens was rough.
I think there was an ounce of pride with two ounces of embarrassment for all the problems I had there. I didn’t feel safe. I never did. I wanted to go jogging at night and I didn’t feel safe. I was robbed once. I had an entire paycheck taken. Another instance, I had my apartment broken into and had money stolen, two computers taken, all my financial documents stolen, and I didn’t have job. I felt raped. Violated. Humiliated. I didn’t tell anyone.
I no longer felt safe in Jamaica, Queens. I moved as soon as I could afford to. If you don’t feel safe, then you probably are not safe; or, will unconsciously put yourself in unsafe situations. If you do not feel safe, you must leave.
A few months after I moved from my Jamaica, Queens apartment because I simply didn’t feel safe, Sean Bell was shot, murdered at the nightclub a block away from my old apartment. Murdered by NYPD who emptied two rounds of ammunition.
This was my awakening.
I could have been shot simply walking home. And, what if my back were turned away from a cop and I was told to put my hands up, and I’m wearing earphones and can’t hear the request? Would I be shot? Importantly, why is Mayor DeBlasio telling individuals to stop resisting arrest? Arrests are resisted when one has no reason to be arrested. When police departments are sued for millions of dollars over and over for the continued imprisonment, for these no-reason arrests, only then will these issues stop.
I could have been targeted like Sean Bell. One of the trigger-happy White policemen, patrolling the streets, playing games on their iphone until they get a call that something was suspicious, could have shot me. Could have killed me, just like Sean Bell.
America likes to keep Blacks in fear and constantly tiptoeing around and thankful for the little things we are permitted to have. Be thankful for your job; Be thankful for your food, your family, your friends, your safety. Oh! And be thankful for your life because America will take it away with no real justification.
America is also intimidated by Black males. Unless we are smiling, tapdancing around, and constantly making jokes. We are deemed an angry defensive threat. Even if we are threatening, defensive or angry–I’d like to think there’s still some justification for it. Justification such as learning from our past. And, as we learn from the past, we realize that we have no other option but to be wary of law enforcement and the treatment we may receive–horrible treatment given to Trayvon Martin up to Mike Brown, and all those in between and before and after.
It’s a race issue because only in America are White Americans given a privilege–the privilege to fear a Black youth, for simply being Black. Imagine if the roles were changed–Black Americans would be laughed at if they said they fear a White child. We are not granted that right. That privilege. We have no authority to grant ourselves true fear–yet the fear we have of losing another child to law enforcement is so real it’s sickening. And the intimidation of, fear of being attacked by an unintimidating Black male is so strong that we are shot, not to the point that we STOP moving and then arrested, but shot until we are dead. Simply because we are feared. However, if a Black man mistreats a dog (Michael Vick), then he must spend time in jail. A dog’s life is more important than the life of a Black man, evidently.
And when these atrocities happen, the media simply paints a horrendous picture of the supposed assailant–party photos vs graduation photos are taken from social media and used; the past run-ins vs the current issue that caused the death is brought into the mainstream, tarnishing the image in hopes that any attempts to humanize this Black male is lessened. America is evil like that. America likes to paint an US vs THEM world. If you are THEM, then you are the enemy.
It’s a race issue because I remember how my family was treated with the subtle jokes, uttered stereotypes, and the continued thought that if I were to debate them then I would be wrong. Again, America likes to keep people quiet, while still singing ‘My country ’tis of thee…Sweet land of liberty…”
Race issues are still alive because I’ve been called nigger and because White people ask why they can’t say it. The race issues still exist because we have a police department in Ferguson with majority White policemen–are the Blacks not good enough to be hired to help protect their own town?
And I’ve thought long and hard about how and when these crimes against Blacks from law enforcement will stop and I’ve come up with only one solution:
There are thousands of White Americans who are fortunate enough, and willing enough to open up their homes and adopt or foster Black children. Heck, remember the Hurricane in Haiti? White Americans flew there real fast to steal the poor Black children, who were not up for adoption, but just temporarily separated from their families. But I digress. Anyway, these Black children are thankfully being adopted by White families. I’m extremely appreciative of it. However, it will take one of these Black children (raised in a White home) to be attacked by or even murdered by law enforcement for White Americans to take this serious. Then, and only then, will these attacks on the Black Community be seen as a global issue, a humanity issue that affects all of us–not just the Black Community. Heaven forbid that something happens to anyone’s child. But something groundbreaking like that, something that specifically targets a Black male who is 100% affiliated with the White community will be the turning point.
Otherwise, no one will ever hear our cries.