…yesterday before class.
I cried today before class.
Both for the same reason; different men.
Different black men, with the same fate.
Yesterday, I woke up to what I thought would be another normal day. I get on Instagram per usual, and see the #AltonSterling pictures all down my timeline…and then I saw why. The video of what happened in Baton Rouge early Tuesday morning where a black man selling CD’s in front of a convenience store was aggressively constrained on the ground and shot multiple times in the chest and back by two police officers. Multiple. Times. Chest. Back. (something about this seems inherently wrong). At this point, I don’t know much more about what happened; not many people do. But I’ll tell you what I do know. I know I saw a man whose body was pinned to the ground be senselessly murdered on camera by individuals who have trained and promised to protect and serve *us*. I know Alton Sterling was taken from his wife and kids before his time…kids who depend(ed) on their father for support, love, and guidance as I do mine. And I know I saw these police officers alive at the end of it all; two men who have the privilege to return to their families after a day of work, as we all expect to do. This all just sounds way too familiar. So I cried because I’m hurting for my community and the hope that has been stripped from us yet again.
BUT THERE’S MORE.
Today, I woke up with a heavy heart. Asking God, “what can I possibly do in a time like this? What will make these cowards stop?!” Then, it happened again. I got on Instagram, again. I saw a hashtag, again. I watched a video, again. It felt like a twisted déjà vu. This time, his name is Philando Castile, a black man who was shot in his car during a traffic stop. The officer was still pointing his gun post-fire as Castile lay there gasping for breath, his girlfriend calmly asking why he was shot. Then, another video…this time of Castile’s 4-year old daughter telling her mom that it’ll be okay. I broke down, again. I had no words, again. I felt completely shattered and hopeless and afraid and enraged and all the things you don’t expect to feel at 7 in the morning on your way to school. I cannot believe what is happening right in front of my eyes. Right in this here “post-racial” America.
I’ve pondered endlessly on the possible causes of these unjustified killings. The role of the police force, the perpetual stereotyping of people of color in the media, the inequities engrained in the American justice system. How all of these larger, ideological forces play out in one individual’s life (or death), is overwhelming to say the least.
To the bigots who continue to dehumanize and devalue black lives: I won’t apologize for your discomfort. I don’t feel sorry that my gravity-defying hair and sun-absorbing skin frighten you. I damn sure don’t sympathize with your unease at my strong, brown brothers who work day in and day out trying to make it in a country that has set up every trap possible for them to fail. I’m so tired. I’m so, so, so tired.
To my people of color who are pre-med, or pre-law, or pre-whateverthe*explicit*youwannabe…keep pushing. Keep your head up. Work harder than your counterparts. Keep a light heart. Pray, pray, pray.
AmeriKKKa is against you. AmeriKKKa is against US. Get out there and VOTE. Create the changes we so desperately need. I stand beside you, among you, behind you, and before you. We need to be our own inspiration. We need to give the youth a face to look up to; a reason to fight & smile & dance & believe.
Before I ramble on for too long, I leave you with this because it’s just so relevant…
“Cops give a damn about a negro; pull the trigger, kill a nigga—he’s a hero.” – Tupac
Peace & love (& heartbreak & injustice & a broken community),
“The I.T. Factor”