The recent events surrounding Michael Brown have left so many outraged. A community is in tremendous pain and crying out for truth; pleading for candor and transparency surrounding the case of a young man who was shot 6 times, 6 times for allegedly stealing a $40-50 pack of cigars.
I will not quote the astounding statistics that reveal the continued and unjustified discrepancies brought upon young black men accused of breaking the law. I will not speak on the young men who are daily profiled solely because of the cars they drive or the mere color of their skin. I won’t speak on how many black men have died at the hands of the death penalty or how many black men are imprisoned for crimes that white men have received far less or no time for. I won’t speak of Trayvon Martin or Oscar Grant. I won’t elaborate because these injustices are so well-known by our population. To share these numbers are a waste of time and would be a sheer act of naivety to pretend there is some way that people don’t already know.
Six days have passed and the nation’s fury persists. The outrage continues because of the bits of information that have been selectively released about this young man’s KILLING. The unabating outrage heightens when information released is meant to suggest that because the unarmed young man stole cigars and assaulted a civilian, being shot and killed 6 times may very well have been justified. The outcry persists because a young man was left out in the street for hours before his body was even covered. No EMT was on site for hours.The outrage remains because the officer’s name was conveniently released along with footage of “Michael” allegedly strong arming a civilian. How does this justify shooting an unarmed man six times, several minutes after the robbery. It doesn’t. It does however villainize a young man and lay the foundation for the justification of the officers actions. Even if an officer feels threatened, why not shoot the alleged assailant in an upper or lower limb. Why not shoot once. Why shoot to kill? Why shoot six times?
Every time an unarmed black man is SHOT TO DEATH, we immediately seek to further destroy his character. To dehumanize him, and inadvertently say “well maybe he deserved to be shot.” “It was probably self-defense.” “After all, I would have been scared for my life if one of these black kids came up on me.” They’re dangerous, right? And they’d probably try to kill you, right? Even if a person is a delinquent (and a number of black, white and Hispanic men in fact are), if they are unarmed and have raised their arms up in defense, what could possibly justify them being victims of the very system that’s been set in place to protect them.
As a community (the black community), we are so tired. We are so sick and tired of our young men falling victim to trigger happy police officers. We are shattered by these events. It honestly feels like modern-day lynching. The last legal way to kill a black man and leave him in the streets for everyone else to see. It is utterly heartbreaking. Captain Ron Johnson has done a very good job addressing the people of Missouri, but one can’t help but see the obvious tactics in his selection. The press release today, in which almost all persons on the platform were of African-American descent seemed to be an obvious PR decision. The way in which information is dispersed and how unclear the investigation seems is so obviously suspect and leaves room for civilians to believe stories are being concocted . This is what raises tensions. The obvious nature in which every word is carefully said and every move tactfully planned. It increases distrust. It leaves our minds to wander. It raises questions that ask, “Is this what you decided to tell us after you had 6 days to come up with it?” Is Darren Wilson’s 6 year record really so squeaky clean? What aren’t we being told? Why is the first bit of pertinent information released defamatory towards the victim? Is that really Michael Brown in the tape?
Black mothers constantly raise their son’s to be on the defense. They place great pressure on them to excel because good enough just isn’t for a young black man. You can’t be average and achieve the same success. You truly have to be exceptional, and even then your color may work against you. Even when success is achieved the young black man is racially profiled. He falls victim to a system that is seemingly out to get him at every turn. It is so unfair. It is so disheartening. As a people we are frustrated. Those of us who are progressive, try so hard to shed racial stigmas and promote a world of equality, but every five minutes we are set back. This just has to change or an uprising will and must occur. We just can’t allow this anymore. We need more persons of color in law enforcement, especially in our communities. We need to revisit laws that permit an unarmed man to be shot down in his back. We need to propel laws that give law enforcement more accountability for their actions. On-person cameras must be considered on a legislative level. There MUST be more transparency when it pertains to persons who take oaths to PROTECT and to SERVE the community. There must be more accountability.
This investigation is on the news merely because it is sensational. It will die down and we will move forward again. We cannot turn a blind eye to things because they do not directly affect us or because they are no longer making news. This needs to drive congressional change. Laws need to be set in place to protect the rights of its citizens. I am a citizen. Trayvon Martinis a citizen. Michael Brown is a citizen. Our lives are no less than yours. Crime doesn’t have a color. Our young men’s crimes simply make the news more than yours do. What does have a distinct color in this country however are disenfranchised youth. We all know what color they tend to be.
Featured image courtesy of thinkprogress.org