I feel like I’m in groundhog’s day. I’ve seen this movie before; we’ve all seen this movie before. It’s an equation that is shocking in its simpleness. Unarmed Black person + police officer (or someone who takes it upon himself to be a police officer, shout out to George Zimmerman) = dead black person, usually with no consequences for the officer who killed him or her.
This isn’t new anymore. In fact, it’s never been new. Listen to the OG’s in your neighborhood and they’ll tell you that this sort of thing is as American as apple pie and baseball games. Technology shed a light on what used to be hidden in the dark so Trayvon Martin felt new, felt raw, and it opened our eyes. The things that we have seen ever since has been horrifying.
In the Trayvon Martin case, they said, “If only there was an eye-witnesses who saw what actually happened, then we could have given you what you wanted.” Then Mike Brown came along with eye-witnesses, they said, “If only we had videotape evidence, then we could have given justice.” Then Eric Garner came along and the only person who went to jail when police used an illegal choke hold to kill that man was the person who videotaped it.
Then the hashtags kept coming: #SandraBland, #TamirRice, #JohnCrawford, #SamDubose, #FreddieGray. There has been so many hashtags that it’s impossible to list them off the top of my head. Do you understand how sad that is? Then the two latest hashtags came within the span of 36 hours, #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastlie. It seems we have reached a collective breaking point in our community purely because of how commonplace this has become.
It takes away a little bit of our humanity every time we scroll on social media and see someone who either looks like us or someone we love die right in front of our eyes. You can only be hit so many times before you start not to feel the pain anymore.
So we grieve and we tell our loved ones that we love them. Instead of telling our friends “Goodbye” we tell them to “be safe out here.” But what do we do next? I am currently writing this on July 7th, the 189th day of 2016. At the time of this writing, there have been 560 officer-related deaths in 2016. That number seems high, that number seems astronomically high. Out of that 560, a disproportionate number of them are African-American men and women. (Note I didn’t say people of color because to be quite frank, it’s not impacting people of all colors, it’s impacting people of a certain color and that is why we say Black Lives Matter.)
Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Since Trayvon, we’ve marched and protested and created social media campaigns to raise awareness. We’ve had the slogans, we’ve had the rallying cries, we’ve had the sit-downs, but things don’t seem to be getting better. In fact, they seem to be getting worse. So what do we do differently? I ask because I don’t personally have the answers, and I don’t think anyone does but we got to start somewhere. This feeling I’m feeling right now isn’t going to cut it, but we can’t let them win.
So while we search for answers, we also must search for happiness and peace. Hug your loved ones a little tighter, hit someone up on the phone who you haven’t heard from in a while, enjoy and revel in your blackness. Don’t feed the trolls and don’t feel the need to explain to anyone why it’s #BlackLivesMatter instead of #AllLivesMatter. Show love to the black women and black men in your life and find a way to laugh. Like your boy from Compton said, “We’re gonna be alright” even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
I love you all.