I watched the movies Kill Bill 1&2 for the umpteenth time last night. I endured the blood and guts, the pulpy glamorizing of violence, and the catchy soundtrack, most of which I have committed to memory. Sorting it out is sometimes a tough task, with Quentin Tarantino’s use of overlapping storylines and flashbacks; did Vivica Fox get killed in one, two, or both? It sounds counterintuitive to write about fake violence as a way of dealing with the real-life Tarantino treatment of black lives in America. In my brief life’s history from the deaths of four little girls in a Birmingham, Alabama church, to Emmett Till and Martin Luther King Jr., every generation of Black Americans has a story of injustice.
Yesterday I watched a video of a murder, literally on an American street. With onlookers shouting and the victim pleading for a breath of air, a Minneapolis police officer pressed the life out of a man, while his fellow officers held the teary-eyed, shouting and oft times begging crowd at bay. George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis, lay face down on the asphalt, unarmed, hands cuffed behind him, with a white police officer slowly and methodically pressing a knee, so tightly to his neck, that Mr. Floyd died. The excuse, we did not see the prior actions of Mr. Floyd before the video, as if murder in context is okay, was dragged out by the police department.
That line of defense is worn, nonsensical but unfortunately effective.
Vigilante George Zimmerman was freed after killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin because he looked…well he just looked. The recent revelation of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery’s murder on the streets of Brunswick County, Georgia was treated with a wink and a nod until the pressure of the public’s outcry affected an arrest. The father-son team of Gregory and Travis McMichael thought they were justified in shot-gunning Mr. Arbery because well… he was running (white people, jog, black people, run). The life of 26-year old EMT Breonna Taylor ended as she slept in her bed on March 13, with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. In a hail of bullets, Ms. Taylor was shot 8 times by police in what reportedly turned out to be a mistake. Her boyfriend did the unthinkable. As a hard-working man, startled awake, in the middle of the night, to the sounds of racking gun barrels, he thought to protect his fiancé and fired a shot in defense. I can only imagine the horrific terror of a young woman and young man panicking and cowering in fear as police unleashed a barrage of gunfire.
Adding insult to injury, the police subsequently discovered they entered the wrong place and Mr. Walker was arrested for the attempted murder of a police officer. Drugs, black people, the police were justified because well…sleeping. These are not new occurrences in the black community, Apple and Samsung just made them weekly spectacles. Just as people before me wrote of Medgar Evers and my generation wrote of Dr. King Jr., some future writer, blogger, or historian will chronicle the next injustice or the next murder of a black man or woman and the police will continue to quote Beatrix Kiddo, “It’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality.”
Vote in 2020 for Change.