It was just another typical evening for me when I stumbled across the video shared from Shaun King’s page showing the murder of yet another unarmed black man. I will be honest with you, I did not watch the video in its entirety because I simply cannot view one more second of footage documenting another death of an unarmed man who looks like my father, my son, my brothers, my uncles or my cousins – or even yours. Without listening to any sound from the video, I witnessed Terence Crutcher with his empty hands surrendered in the air. At some point, he motions toward his car because more than likely, he was ordered to get identification (I’m assuming). I mean, if not, wouldn’t they have shot him as he took a step towards his car? As soon as he gets ready to reach, I exit the video because I had already read the caption and knew how it would end and decided that I didn’t want to see it past that point. But, no thanks to technology, I still ended up coming across a still shot of his lifeless body covered in blood as I continued to scroll.
How many more times do we have to hear what seems like the same lie each time a person of color is killed? “He was non-compliant,” “He charged at officers,” “He had something in his hand that was thought to be a weapon.” We see these same excuses re-paraphrased with each new hashtag followed by a black person’s name. My heart aches, my soul weeps and my being is angry! Less than 24 hours ago, a presumed terrorist gets into a gun fight with authorities and is taken ALIVE just days after the anniversary of 9/11. Clearly, I don’t have enough time or space to go into the long list of violent offenders toward police who were taken into custody alive all because they were not black. It’s a harsh reality that I have tried to reject for the longest, but it’s difficult to reject when the actions of the system prove to me that it’s not a theory – it’s real life.
The Birth of Joshua
Motherhood has added to my purpose undoubtedly. Giving birth to my daughter was and is so blissful that I decided I wanted another child. I didn’t calculate exactly when but my then husband and I agreed we would get some things in order and have another baby. Apparently my daughter wanted a brother because she had begun telling her teacher that she was going to have a baby brother and his name would be “Joshua”. Her pre-k teacher congratulated me one day while picking Aryah (my daughter) up from school and on said day, I had no inkling that I was already expecting – but I was. We were elated when we learned we were indeed having a boy and after tossing names around to no avail we agreed to go with Aryah’s prophecy and named him Joshua. Of course when I held my children cradled in my arms, I didn’t predict the feeling that I have right now as I type. These feelings of concern are not just for the mothers of black boy’s sorority anymore. It’s for mothers of black children, it’s for black mothers themselves, black fathers and so on.
The Birth of Heartache
I remember taking my son and nephew to summer camp one day and they wanted to go into the store for pastries as it was still morning and I obliged. They wanted to be “big boys” and go in alone so I said okay. My boys (because my nephew is mine too) came back to the car so sad and upset that it’s bringing me to tears as I type! Joshua couldn’t understand why the store clerk “kept staring at us.” Not to mention when they went to the counter to pay, they were treated rudely and were told “just go on.” Yes, of course I went into the store to confront the clerk about the way he handled my young men in the store of THEIR own community and I was met with complete denial. Now I prefer to go into the store with him so that I can feel secure. Some may not like this but the same clerk who behaved with my babies that way is just as dark as my son and they look like they could have passed for cousins. Yes, I am saying that he is black too regardless of if he saw himself that way or not.
I remember teachers making remarks in ear shot of Joshua last school year. If you’re my Facebook friend or follow me on Instagram you know that he wears his hair in its natural state. “His mama need to cut that hair.” My children are taught not to go back and forth with adults so he did what was asked of him and shared this with me instead of replying to the teacher. Of course I asked said teacher what she meant by that! Not because I’m big and bad but because that is my child and I won’t allow his confidence to be diminished by a teacher with an opinion which is irrelevant to the curriculum. As long as he’s doing what is asked of him I will allow him to wear his coils because it is his self-expression of which I don’t object to because I often walk beside him wearing an afro puff myself. I mentioned this because at 10 years old my son is being categorized by how he looks; dark-skinned black boy with a head full of coiled hair so he must be trouble or “bad dude”. As if cutting his hair off is going to ward off the system.
The Birth of Anguish
A guy called into the radio offering feedback about things we can do and this guy said “wear suits”. I refuse to believe that some people are struggling this much to see the reality of what’s happening to a race of people in the “land of the free.” Attire, credentials, pedigree, complexion are all things that have zero influence on whether or not an officer decides to shoot you on site. I don’t want to be the black mom with a chip on my shoulder, but how do we overcome the anguish of seeing our brothers and sisters abroad being gunned down when they aren’t even posing a threat? And I know that some of my brothers and sisters are saying, “I’m waiting on all of the facts before I comment” but I’ve got a fact for you – being black made him disposable just like you and I in their eyes. Crime committed or not, violent offenders of other races get to jail or a hospital alive time and time again while WE LAY ON THE PAVEMENT WAITING ON A BODY BAG!
Just a while ago, we have Gabby Douglas being dragged through the media for not placing her hand over her heart during the Olympic Games while Ryan Lochte was referred to as “kids having fun” after he concocted a lie along with his swim mates about being robbed. By who? People of color! I’m not even…
Many will disagree with what I’m about to say and that is okay with me, but the despair and the genocide of black people is not new. It may have quieted down at a point, but it’s not new. The children of Israel in the Bible were people of color who were also God’s chosen people. Throughout history, any biblical movie that you’ve ever seen is portrayed by anyone except people of color (why mask the identity of them). Even the portraits of Yahshua (Jesus) that we’ve all seen growing up have portrayed the opposite of what the Bible describes: a bronze man with hair like wool. The children of Israel weren’t treated right. Fast forward to slavery in the U.S. starting in the 1600’s. Do I have to recap the horror of that era? Fast forward some more to what was later named the Civil Rights Movement, people getting killed for trying to vote, for going to school or heck just trying to live decently. I’m running out of space but what I am pointing out is that here we are, fast forwarded to yet another era, where we as black people still matter much less than our counterparts and are still being mistreated, unjustly killed and more harshly convicted than any other people.
But after you read this post, you will still see hateful and racially charged memes and snapchat still shots exposing what many think of Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, you will still see insensitive comments like “he should have complied” or “get over it” in any comment section that is talking about this latest killing and you will likely witness along with the rest of the world, the officer responsible for killing Terence Crutcher walk free (I hope I’m wrong). The reason we can’t “get over” the gross injustice that happened to our ancestors when they were shackled and shipped to a stolen land to face treatment worse than animals, is because now in 2016, we still don’t have anyone being accountable for that and today we’re facing extinction at the hands of the system.
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