At the start of this week, we celebrated America with fireworks, patriotism and community. By Friday, the country is in utter turmoil, much blood has been shed and innocent lives have been lost.
At 12:35 am on July 5th, the world lost Alton Sterling. An African American man. 37 year-old father of five. Shot in the chest and back four times by two white Baton Rouge police officers point blank. An aggressive takedown of man simply selling CD’s in front of a corner store went wrong.
In the midst of the pain of losing one brother, not even 36 hours later we lose Philando Castile. An elementary school cafeteria worker in Minnesota who was pulled over for a busted tail light, then slaughtered in front of his girlfriend and daughter as he reached (only after he was advised by the officer) for his license to identify himself.
My heart is heavy. This week has been a range of emotion; rage, sadness, fear. Thursday afternoon, I made an attempt to get away from all of the violence and tragedy by turning off my tv and closing my laptop. Went to meet my best friend at a poetry night event around 11 p.m. First thing she says when I get out the car…”You see three Dallas officers done got killed by a sniper?”
I get people are fed up with police brutality, and I get we are in a new revolution of equality and justice, but is this how our predecessors taught us to fight back? Martin marched and protested in peace while facing water cannons, attack dogs, and police swatting batons. Malcolm spoke to the masses of having pride in our blackness, focusing on our communities, doing for ourselves. The Black Panthers DEFENDED themselves lawfully in the face of confrontation while protesting the politics of their day. The five officers who lost their lives were victims of a vicious, unsolicited retaliation that they did not deserve. These officers were protecting civilians taking part in a peaceful protest. The individual who inflicted this unnecessary act has done so very cowardly, hurting a wounded nation even more.
Are we seriously just targeting police without warning and without any altercation, negative or positive? Eye for an eye only results in a stalemate. This week has me completely fearful for my fellow people of color. I’m equally fearful for the men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line to protect and serve, some of which are my own family members. This is all completely ridiculous on all sides. All police are not out to inflict racism and prejudice on the communities they serve. In the same respect, all citizens do not hate the police and manner in which they choose to do their jobs.
America is in pure chaos right now and I never imagined I’d see a week like this in my lifetime. I’m continuously praying this country can get it right some day. That we can all live amongst each other peacefully and playing our respective roles regardless of race, regardless of authority, regardless of indifference and varied beliefs. Be the change that you want to see in the world. Just protesting and walking the streets with signs will not change much. We must vote. We must support our communities. We must make our presence known in more ways than one. Become familiar with your representatives, councilmen, mayors, etc. Know your rights as citizens and the many ways you can make a difference in your local government. As much as we think big government trickles down to local government, it can be reversed upward as well. Do what you can in your community and it will reflect on the country.
Be safe out there. Love and life to everyone!