I have lived a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of injustices. The “talk” that has been so widely spoken about in the media and by black mothers and fathers is a real thing. There was a time, when it was a mitigating factor but never eliminated the violence inflicted upon black men, women, boys, and girls in America. Sometimes, after being told to keep your hands at ten and two on the steering wheel, it helped. Making sure you did not raise your voice or make a quick move around a police officer might get you home safely. Keeping your hands in plain sight and out of your pockets while shopping, and be careful if you find yourself walking through a white neighborhood had a placebo effect. All these cursory admonitions and tangible warnings to stay alive at the end of a day are wholly unfamiliar, as imperatives, to white families.
I recently attended the re-dedication of my youngest son’s marriage vows between him and his wife. My oldest son lives in Florida and he and his spouse are also following the rules, and paying taxes. My oldest, I proudly write, served his country as a member of the armed forces. What do I say to my sons when they call and say, “Dad, “you said if I cooperate, I am safe. You said, If I comply, I am safe. You said, if I show respect and do the right things, I am safe.” The lump in my throat and my search for words revealed that all I said previously, in an effort to keep them safe, may not be true. They point to examples like Eric Garner, Rayshard Brooks, and recently Jacob Blake. Men who feared death and fought against their ultimate demise and injury. Thankfully, I did not say out loud, ‘what about Philando Castile, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor’ who were cooperative, compliant, and did the right things. What that list of victims proves is that your level of success, failure, or hard work does not matter, your black skin is the biggest determinant.
I am not applying for sainthood for any of the victims but sainthood is no more a prerequisite to living as is the right to exist. Selling loose cigarettes, driving your fiancé and child home, or for God’s sake sleeping in your bed, after risking your life to fight the Covid-19 virus, deserves the respect of humanity.
The white, 17-year-old killer of two men in Wisconsin was allowed to go home and rest up after a good night of hunting. The police chief of Kenosha inferred it was the fault of the victims because they broke curfew. When the killer who slaughtered nine people in a South Carolina church [Mother] Emanuel AME in 2015 was arrested the police stopped and fed him Burger King on his way to jail. More humanity was afforded these men than they showed their victims. Had Rayshard Brooks been offered a ride home or Breonna Taylor been allowed to sleep peacefully, maybe I could answer my son’s questions. Crispus Attucks was the first man to die in the American Revolution, black men dug latrines, were stretcher-bearers and finally were called upon to fight, turning the tide in the Civil War; and finally, a black man, President Barack Obama, led America out of its biggest financial disaster since the Great depression.
Basketball coach Doc Rivers said it best a few days ago, ‘It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back’
Vote in 2020 for Change.