This is a long one guys....
As I write this, warm tears fall down my face. As I write this, I am filled with anger. As I write this, I feel helpless. And sadly, as I write this, I fear that my black father, my black brothers, my black cousins, or my black friends could be the next hashtag that floods my timeline.
I have struggled with words all day. I have been on the phone with people ALL day as they voice their frustration, fear, and helplessness. I woke up with this heaviness that I can’t explain. My heart was already heavy for #AltonSterling but then to hear and SEE the death of #PhilandoCastile was a bit much.
I couldn’t stop…I couldn’t stop the tears and I couldn’t stop the hatred I was feeling. I am saved, I love the Lord, and for a moment I felt hate in my heart. It doesn’t take away my salvation but it simply confirms my humanity.
Every day I wake up black. I work HARD for everything I have. I’ve never been in trouble with the law (outside of a heavy foot a few times). I am a law-abiding, voting, upstanding, tax paying, citizen. But can I be honest? I get nervous when I see cops. Not as an admittance of guilt but because I don’t know if they are having a bad day and maybe just maybe I’ll move too fast or too slow, or say too much or not enough, or look suspicious, or not look fearful at all and that may make them mad that I’m not shaking in my boots…I don’t know! Let me say this and make this crystal clear. ALL COPS ARE NOT BAD! ALL WHITES ARE NOT RACIST! AND ALL BLACKS ARE NOT THUGS!
My issue is not just with police brutality but with racism in general. I have stories for days where I was found guilty…. guilty simply just for being black. You have no idea what it feels like to be followed around a store to make sure you don’t steal anything, didn’t get a greeting when I walked in, but the lady after me got a warm welcome and asked what she was looking for…I won’t mention her skin color.
Or maybe when I was a teenager working at Hardees and the “nice” white man asked for a Pepsi. My response was “Sir, I am so sorry we don’t carry Pepsi products, could I offer you a Coke or Dr. Pepper instead?” His response was, “No you stupid nigger”. What did I do to deserve that? My job?
Or maybe when I was followed out of the store by a security officer who said he SAW me steal something. He ordered me to empty my pockets and I DID. When he saw I had nothing in my pockets he said I handed it over to the young man I was with. I asked the security to show me on camera where I had stolen something and he couldn’t. *shrugs*
Traveling to Michigan with 2 female friends and 2 children. We get pulled over…the officer asked the driver to get out of the car (he had no reason) …she got out the car and didn’t say anything…he then asks a question that made me feel disrespected to the core. “So, how often do you smoke weed?” Was it because she had on sweat pants and a shirt? After all who travels over 500 miles in uncomfortable clothes? You didn’t see weed, smell weed, or even have a reason to ask that. We were headed to a family reunion and that young lady is a preacher of the gospel. If she was someone else who did not have the Holy Ghost that whole scenario could have went another way and maybe she would be another hashtag we scream when speaking of injustice in America.
I want to bring out a few points! These points will be very plain and pointed. I do not wish to offend any people group but these are my thoughts.
BLACK PEOPLE: If you are ONLY posting on social media, do yourself a favor and keep your status. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to your local church (I pray they are doing something), your local NAACP chapter, or start something of your own. I plan on attending a community prayer this weekend in my hometown. Let me help you…the people who are “hosting” the prayer are some of my awesome, Caucasian brothers and sisters. If you want equality, don’t just reach out and pray with those who look like you! I have also given to the GoFund Me account that is serving as a scholarship fund for the children of Alton Sterling. If you can’t pray, pay…If you can’t pay, march. Immobile? Help organize. No organizational skills? Show Up. None of the above? Shut up. (Sorry). It’s time out for making noise and not making moves…I digress.
“NON-BLACKS”- We as Black people, are well aware of Black on Black Crime. The issue when you bring this up as a rebuttal to our arguments of the senseless slaughtering of our sons is…”When Tyrone kills Pookie, Tyrone goes to jail. However, when Officer Bob kills Pookie, even with video evidence, he gets administrative leave”. We are not turning our backs on the fact that Chicago is a mess. We are not turning our backs on the fact that we have a lot of cleaning up to do as a community at large. We are simply saying that Tyrone didn’t take an oath to serve and protect but Officer Bob did.
I don’t want to hear “well, if he would have just done this then he would be alive” or “if he would have done _____________ he would be with us”. You know what? Maybe things could have been handled differently on both of their parts but we will never know because Alton and Philando’s voices were silenced. There were even people who criticized Philando’s girlfriend for going Facebook live, they said she was too calm. How would you react if there was a gun in your face and your boyfriend was dying beside you? Oh, that never happened to you? Right! So you don’t know how you would act. We don’t know what that woman has seen in her life, we don’t know if she is numb to this type of thing, or if she was calm because she felt as if her “overreacting” may get her killed too.
WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE THINKING: After we see our fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, husbands, and sons killed before our very eyes…the media then digs up the absolute worst picture they can find and brings up how “he” stole bubble gum in 2ndgrade. Let’s say for the sake of argument because I’m not afraid to go there…let’s say he was a gang member, if his gang affiliation has nothing to do with his death...I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!
Something else people are thinking but too afraid to say: You have the right to bear arms…as long as you’re not black.
Lastly, “non-blacks” I’m not saying that you have to march or post a status, but for some people (myself included), we just want you to stop justifying what is going on. It is heartbreaking as is, without you trying to make it right.
And for those who don’t share my skin color but you have been earnestly praying, reaching out, marching, posting statuses, and bringing knowledge to others. THANK YOU! And I mean that from the bottom of my heart!
BLACK LIVES MATTER: When I say black lives matter, I am not condoning or accepting the murder of cops. When I say black lives matter I’m not saying all lives don’t matter. Sidenote: Every group of people have extremists. I’m sorry if you had a bad encounter with a black person and now your view is tainted. I’ve had my fair share of run ins with white people but I don’t write off the whole race.
“This ALL Lives Matter movement has no credibility at the moment. That's like breaking your finger and the doctor saying, "ALL body parts matter". Yes, they do but right now let's focus on this broken one. #BlackLivesMatter#WakeUpAmerica” – Ebony Holt
"My personal interpretation of Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter:
Bob is sitting at the dinner table. Everyone else gets a plate of food, except Bob.
Bob says: 'Bob deserves food.'
Everyone at the table responds with 'everyone deserves food' and continues eating.
Although everyone deserves food is a true statement, it does nothing to actually rectify the fact that BOB HAS NO FOOD."
- Adam Campbell (Adam is Caucasian by the way).
I LOVE A BLACK MAN AND ONE DAY I’LL RAISE ONE:
Tell me how you would start a conversation with your son about what is going on in America. As a black mother how do you reiterate the seriousness of what’s going on without instilling an unhealthy fear. Here’s what I shared on Facebook:
I'm sorry son! I'm sorry that mommy can't protect you from the world that she brought you into. I'm sorry that even though I taught you manners and how to deal with things correctly that the color of your skin automatically puts you in a category. This category you ask? "dangerous, violent, and quite frankly an endangered species" It doesn't matter that you are a child, or that you are unarmed, or even if you are "degreed", or just doing your job.... you are a threat...and you have a target on you. Even if you listen to "them" you still may end up dead...Mommy is so sorry. --Signed, A Young Woman who will God willing one day raise a black son
Closing thoughts: The last couple of days have been VERY draining to say the least. The conversations I have had with the black men in my life have been sad. If someone was eavesdropping on our conversation you would think it was the 1960s. I’m telling “him” Malcolm’s approach won’t solve anything; he’s telling me Martin’s approach will get us nowhere. I’m saying let’s pray, he’s saying someone must pay. How do I calm the inner rage of my black man when the pictures of the slain look like him? My heart bleeds for Sterling’s family, my heart bleeds for Castiles’ family, and my heart bleeds for the families of the Dallas police officers who lost their lives to violence. If you have not said a thing about Sterling or Castile and all of a sudden you have a Facebook status the length of a doctoral dissertation ready to be defended…my heart bleeds for you too.
I love you all! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!