How long will you continue to be slaughtered and treated like animals, all because of the color of your skin and be okay with it?
How long will you allow society to view you as a threat, and continue to create false narratives about you that people, including many in your own race, believe to be true?
When will you wake the hell up and stop believing that the laws in this country were designed for you and that you are somehow equal to the original founders of America, and start believing that just because it says so on a piece of paper or because you learned about it in a textbook or because you read it on the Internet, doesn’t make it true?
You are collectively asleep and in need of an immediate wake-up call.
The mainstream media has been all over the news of the July 7th ambush on police in Dallas, Texas, that left five officers dead and nine injured.
The outpouring of support that society and the mainstream media has given to these law enforcement officials, who were senselessly murdered and attacked, versus the attention given to the three Black people who were senselessly murdered in the days surrounding that despicable act, is an example of why Black America needs to come together and challenge non-Blacks to join in with Black America to bring about the necessary change to move America forward.
The response to the two – law enforcement versus unarmed Black people – is telling as well.
Many would argue that America would not even be talking about the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Alva Braziel if it had not been for those Dallas cops being killed.
As a matter of fact, the majority of news coverage has been devoted towards those Dallas officers than has gone to those recent Black victims of police shootings.
Look at how America responds to the deaths of Black people when they are killed by police.
Three more Black males were recently gunned down, in a matter of days in different parts of the country, and Blacks find themselves seeking answers, seeking justice and seeking to survive.
On July 5th, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by two Baton Rouge police officers after a homeless man made a 911 call to police after begging Sterling for money and being rejected. On video, you see the police approach Sterling outside the Triple S Food Mart. The officers charge at him, tackle him, subdue him and then shoot him, after they allege he reached for a gun to shoot them. In the video, Sterling is not seen holding a gun, however.
On July 6th, 32-year old Philando Castile was shot and killed in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, by a police officer who is heard on the audio recording of police scanner traffic as saying he was “going to check IDs,” and that he had “reason to pull it over” because the two people in the vehicle, Castile and his friend Diamond Reynolds, looked like “people that were involved in a robbery.” Going even further, the officer said, “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide-set nose.” Reynolds, who was in the car with Castile at the time of the shooting, recorded the incident on Facebook Live and the video went viral. She said that the officer told them they had been pulled over for a broken taillight, which turned out to be untrue. She also said that Castile informed the officer he had a gun and was licensed to carry. Castile was shot and killed anyway.
On July 9th, 38-year old Alva Braziel was shot and killed by Houston police, after they say he was waving a gun when they approached him and pointed his gun at officers after they gave him multiple commands to drop the weapon. Sources say Braziel was looking for his stolen horse and new video surveillance footage appears to show Braziel walking toward an intersection when the police squad car pulls up in front of him. Braziel then appears to put his hands up into the air and turn around to face the police car, and then immediately falls to the ground after being shot by the police while their squad car was still moving forward towards him.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
When a member of law enforcement kills an unarmed Black person, Americans are told to wait and not rush to judgment until all of the facts are gathered and an investigation is conducted. Another narrative that Americans are forced to digest is one that encourages Americans not to judge all police officers based on the actions of one or more rogue police officers.
However, when a lone Black person kills a member of law enforcement, the entire Black race tends to be blamed or an entire movement such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
There is another saying that rings true, which states, “Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.”
During the days of slavery, Reconstruction, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow era, Blacks did not have the benefit of having smart phones to record their abuse or social media to tell the world about it. Black people had to rely on communicating amongst themselves and working with non-Blacks who could help them make a real difference in society.
Even with solid legislation and advocacy, there were still racist individuals in positions of power who harmed Blacks in unthinkable ways. Fast forward to March 7, 1965, we see one of the first times that White people were able to visibly see the atrocities committed by the hands of White policemen and elected officials, that Black people were complaining about in the South and seeking protections from. Known as “Bloody Sunday” for many in the Black community, armed policemen deliberately attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators, like current Congressman John Lewis, who were simply attempting to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. Hundreds of White armed police officers beat many of the Black protestors unconscious and left them bloodied. What made this incident so impactful was that television networks displayed the horrific and brutal images for all of America and the world to see. Another thing that caught the attention of non-Black people was having a photo appear on the front page of newspapers and news magazines all over the world, of the unconscious body of Black female march organizer Amelia Boynton lying on the road of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The video images from “Bloody Sunday” probably did more to move on the hearts and minds of non-Black people, as what Jet magazine did to mobilize Black people when they published the photographs of the mutilated body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955.
Fast forward to the Rodney King incident being caught on video camera and the other police brutality cases caught on camera, it is clear that America has a problem that must be addressed by Blacks and non-Blacks alike.
Black people are tired of being racially profiled and are tired of wondering whether they, or one of their loved ones, will be the next unsuspecting victim of a cop’s bullet. In order for this country to move forward, all Americans must come together and not downplay police brutality.
America is at a crossroads, and Black people find themselves smack dab in the middle of it.
Black people have been getting racially profiled and targeted since America was founded, and although substantial gains have been made, Black people continue to be racially profiled today.
There is an old popular French saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
As it relates to what we are witnessing in America right now, that saying is spot on.
The issue of police brutality has been a major topic of discussion amongst many members of the African American community for some time. The recent deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement officials over the past several weeks, coupled with the number of Blacks who have been killed by police over the last several years, has become a widespread epidemic that has led to a response from Black people that is reminiscent to that of the Civil Rights movement and other movements in America that sought to bring about change for Black people.
Since the founding of this country, Black people have been the recipients of ill-treatment, but there were always White people and other non-Blacks who got involved to help make a difference and bring about change. There were White abolitionists, like John Brown, who believed he had a personal responsibility to overthrow slavery during the mid-1850s. He was just one of many White people who considered it their personal responsibility to speak out against the vile and barbaric system of slavery, by any means necessary.
Fast forward from the founding of this country and we see that the ill-treatment of Blacks is in full effect today. As has happened before, America needs more Whites and non-Blacks to consider it their personal responsibility to speak out against vile actions and unjust systems in place today, which disparately impact Blacks more than any other group in America.
In order to deal with the issue of the sanctioned and legalized murders of Black people in this country by members of law enforcement, it can’t just be Black people talking about it. In order to deal with many of the other issues that have plagued Black people for centuries, it can’t just be Black people talking about those issues either. It takes everybody to address these issues.
Racism is not an illusion and it should be truly addressed. The passage of new pieces of legislation and amendments to the U.S. Constitution has not gotten rid of racism, and it never will unless you have people in place of all races who actually carry out and enforce them fairly.
Blacks have been consistent in their complaints and clear in their communication, and have been saying the same things to the powers that be in America about racism in this country for decades. Blacks are often labeled angry and over-the-top when it comes to addressing the issues that negatively impact them, such as police brutality, mostly by non-Black people.
Community policing is an effective way of turning the tide of animosity and discord between the community and the police who are sworn to protect and serve it.
If the question is, can one officer really transform a community? The answer is yes.
History has shown that community-oriented policing is an effective tool because you get buy-in from both law enforcement and community members, as to how they can best solve the problems and address the issues in that community. If an officer does not live in that community or have any direct relationships with the members of that community, then they are just tourists with a gun and a badge, and a legal right to shoot and kill.
The Forward Times plans to take a leading role on helping bridge the gap between law enforcement officials and the Black community, but there must be mutual agreement.
We will continue this extremely important dialogue over the coming weeks, because there is plenty more to discuss and digest.