According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “target” is “something or someone marked for attack.”
As we look at the number of incidents happening across this country, whether they are acts of violence, voter suppression and intimidation tactics or racial profiling, it is clear that African Americans continue to bear the unnecessary brunt of being aggressively “targeted” and “attacked” in this country.
The African American community has once again found itself “targeted” by a racist, White domestic terrorist. On October 24th, 51-year-old Gregory Bush walked into a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, and fatally shot two elderly African Americans – Maurice Stallard, 69 and Vickie Lee Jones, 67.
Bush literally walked into that Kroger supermarket, pulled out his gun, and shot Stallard in the back of the head with no warning, and then turned around and shot him several more times as Stallard fell to the floor after being shot in the head unsuspectingly. After that cowardly act, Bush then went outside and killed Jones, after chasing her and shooting her multiple times, according to reports.
Bush was hell-bent on carrying out his sick and twisted plot against anybody who was Black, and his evil and sinister plans could have been far worse, considering he tried to enter into a prominent Black church minutes before, to do the same thing to the parishioners at that church – kill them the same way he tragically took the lives of those two innocent Black people. According to police, mere minutes before going to Kroger store, Bush was seen on surveillance video yanking on the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown – a predominantly Black church. According to reports, if Bush would have arrived to the church just an hour earlier that day, the doors may have been unlocked with approximately 70 people inside, who would have all been at risk of being a victim that day. Although this incident is now being investigated as a hate crime, there is a deeper discussion that must be had surrounding the overall chilling details of this horrific crime.
Why were these two innocent African Americans targeted? It is simple – because they were Black and that is all that mattered to this White racist shooter.
This incident is eerily reminiscent of the racist actions carried out during a prayer service in 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina by Dylan Roof – another White domestic terrorist. Roof was convicted in federal court of all 33 federal hate crime charges against him after he killed nine people, all African Americans. On the day Roof was captured, he confessed to committing the attack against Black people with the intention of starting a race war. Roof was sentenced to death.
In the area of politics and voting, Black people have been “targeted” significantly. There are countless lawsuits that have been filed and complaints lodged, that center around Black people having their right to vote challenged or hampered. Back in August, roughly 4,000 eligible Harris County voters, mostly African Americans located in Houston’s historic Third Ward, had their voting rights attacked by an independent operative who used an antiquated Texas state law to legally challenge their voting status. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office was sued for putting approximately 53,000 voter registration applications on hold because of minor discrepancies, and although Blacks make up roughly 32 percent of Georgia’s population, approximately 70 percent of the applications in Kemp’s office that were placed in this voter registration pending status were those of Black applicants. In Tennessee, the NAACP Memphis Branch and the Tennessee Black Voter Project prevailed in a lawsuit against the Shelby County Election Commission, after they attempted to invalidate thousands of voter registration applications for supposedly being ‘incomplete’. Those voters, the majority of whom are Black, will now be able to correct the forms and vote regular ballots at any early voting site on Election Day. In Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis used racially insensitive remarks in the first 24 hours after learning that his African American opponent, Andrew Gillum, had won the Democratic Primary. DeSantis went on Fox News and told the people of Florida that they had better not “monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda” and warned them not to vote for Gillum, who could very well be Florida’s first-ever African American governor.
As it relates to racial profiling, Black people are consistently being “targeted,” harassed, questioned and are having the police called on them for no other reason than being Black.
Racial profiling by law enforcement continues to be an issue, along with continued harassment by those who continue to call the police on Black people for simply being Black.
Most recently, a viral video began trending showing a White woman named Susan Westwood, 51, in Charlotte, North Carolina, harassing two Black women, Leisa and Mary Garris, as they were waiting for AAA in a parking lot outside of an apartment complex. In the video, Westwood, who is clearly drunk, constantly asks the ladies who they are, where they live, why they are in the parking lot, and even goes so far as to threaten to pull out her gun. She also continues to approach the two ladies in an aggressive and uncomfortable manner.
Last month in St. Louis, a White woman was shown on video blocking a young, Black man from entering the loft building where he lives because she didn’t believe he lived there. She followed the guy all the way to his door and as he entered inside his loft, the White lady still called the police on him.
Sadly in America, the skin color of African American people has caused them to become unwilling targets – stereotyped and treated like very few other races of people are treated in America. The rhetoric that has been, and continues to be spewed by President Donald Trump, is believed to have contributed to the increase in these racially-charged attacks on Black people.
According to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes reported to police in America’s ten largest cities rose 12.5 percent in 2017 – the fourth consecutive annual rise in a row and the highest total in over a decade. Hate crimes reported to police in America’s ten largest cities rose 12.5 percent in 2017 Of the nation’s ten largest cities in 2017, hate crimes reported to police rose 12.5 percent, with Houston having a 38 percent increase in hate crimes reported.
Whether driving or walking down the street, Black people have been the true victims of society’s overarching stereotypes.
Black people also have to deal with society’s overall lack of accountability when it comes to people who perpetuate stereotypes about Blacks and who display racist actions towards Blacks.
Black people must no longer be “targeted” by those who don’t look like them, and should not have to walk around with a bullseye on their back because of the color of their skin. A change of heart is truly needed.