I decided to post this because: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Today I received a message after posting a picture that said “A black man is killed & the media prints out prior records. A white teen rapes a girl & media prints his swim times. #AltonSterling.”
The message was heartfelt, genuine, and came from a place of love from one friend to another. Did I agree with the message? No. Do I still love my friend? Of course.
Alton Sterling may have had a criminal record, but is that any excuse to be murdered? Does being a criminal justify being shot and killed by a police officer when he presented no immediate danger to these cops? A police officer who’s body cam mysteriously fell off before the shooting? The truth is that a single bullet stands between a black person becoming a hashtag. How disgusting is that?
This message stated that these crimes (white cops shooting unarmed black men) are more complex than the narrative told by the public forum. This person gave warning not to necessarily trust because of my political beliefs. I agree. But I don’t agree with the spin this friend was giving. No, the public forum doesn’t accurately represent Americas crystal clear history of dehumanizing, branding, targeting, and abusing black people. The public forum doesn’t accurately represent Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice; All black people shot by police offers, in which the police officers were not convicted. Innocent people killed by the hands of those sworn to protect. The public forum that so excitedly celebrated Americas 240th birthday at the beginning of the week failed to mention that this country was founded by slave owning politicians. Salves that were brought back from Africa after thousands of years of European explorers slaughtering and raping Africans; thousands of years of burying and stealing an entire history of people. The public forum doesn’t include that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t come into effect until 153 years ago. The public forum fails to include that it wasn’t until 1954 that blacks and whites could be taught in the same schools (and don’t even get me started on the topic of quality of education given to blacks and whites because it’s alarming.) The public forum fails to remember that it wasn’t until 1964, 52 years ago, that The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) a landmark piece of Civil Rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The public forums failed to remember this Independence day that not long ago, blacks weren’t allowed to drink at the same water fountains or go to the same bathrooms as whites. “Separate but equal,” right?
I’m sure you’re like what does this shot of history have to do with Alton Sterling?
Circumstances rarely change until something like the Alton Sterling shooting happens. Not because it’s the first time, but because it’s so common, many people don’t think twice when it happens.
It wasn’t until Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, and countless others stood up and said “ENOUGH.” Organizations like the Black Lives Matter movement are crucial in continuing this march for equality. It isn’t until enough people stand together against injustice that lives begin to change. The Black Lives Matter movement matters because it is clear that black lives do not matter in this country. People have claimed that the protesters are violent but the echos of being beaten and hosed down and killed remain deep within their bones. I don’t believe that taking one life for another brings peace or freedom. I do believe that our government has to act in favor of the oppressed. A fundamental flaw with BLM is a lack of clear leadership. Protests cannot be turned into violent cop killing sprees.
So back to the message sent to me today: This person made a point to include that 4,472 black men have killed other black men. (A source was never presented to me, but hey, I’ll trust them.) Does that deserve acknowledgement? Absolutely, but Black communities are not unaware of Black on Black crime. Right now we’re starting a conversation about systematic racism. This is the equivalent to saying “All Lives Matter.” BLM is not saying “Black lives matter, only” they’re saying “Black Lives Matter, too.” We’re talking about the systematic racism that keeps more black men in jail, than white men for committing the same crime. This systematic racism that calls for black mothers to teach their children how to behave in a way that wouldn’t single them out.
This persons message also included Jesus. They said, “Jesus wasn’t simply a conservative or a liberal. He wasn’t trendy.” These events have nothing to do with conservative or liberal views; These murders are about fundamental racism, prejudice, and hatred. If fighting for the safety, equal opportunity to walk down the street without fear, and justice for those who have been tragically taken away is trendy, then by all means, let me follow the crowd. Wild guess but i’m going to say that Jesus would not tolerate hate or injustice. I believe Jesus weeps for those killed and for the families that are left in the middle. And to be clear, I don’t believe the media one time questioned or mentioned the murdered individuals political affiliation.
Since we’re talking about Jesus, we might as well bring up the NRA! Philando Castile had a permit for the gun he was carrying, let the officer know this information, and his life was still taken away. Just incase anyone didn’t know that detail: sometimes following the law doesn’t keep you alive, crazy?
How many more black people have to die? How many more black children have to live in fear? How many more black women have to live in fear of their child or husband not coming home? How “trendy” does something have to be before we stand together and change a system built to divide?
I would like to leave you with this passage from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s one of my favorite passages off all time; packed full of symbolism, power, and love.
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”