*This post was originally posted 07/17/2016 and later restored, reedited and republished. Read about that here. It may or may not contain original photos used.
I was going through life just as everyone else and then I saw it. Centered in white on a canvas of black: #AltonSterling. History told me this hashtag belonged to a victim of police brutality. I was right.
If you haven’t heard about the police killing of Alton Sterling, a married father of five, I’ll let you do your research. Take the time to form your own opinion and absorb the truth that being Black in America borders sin. I say that in confidence. Confidence in knowing that I do not have to waste energy proving how as people we were condemned the second eyes were laid upon our melanin. The second we were viewed as “different”. Read “Strange Fruit”………or sing it.
I can’t bring myself to watch the full footage of Alton’s final minutes; nor could I watch Philando Castile’s final moments. Neither did I view the killing of Tamir Rice in it’s entirety. I couldn’t bring myself to witness—strangely justified—murders in real time. However, I couldn’t take my eyes of Mike Brown’s lifeless body as he laid face down in the street. It’s inhumane how as human we treat humans; yet little has been done to spark the change we so very often hear about. We can march for 40 days and 40 nights and fill the cities’ streets, but if the representatives we elect into office refuse to enact equal legislation to cater our needs change becomes preservation and we are left with a broken system. After all, we’re simply just trying to fix what is broken.
The actions in the past weeks since Sterling’s and Castile’s death were not unexpected. Unfortunate that death lead to an increase in death, but not unexpected. There was only a matter of time until citizens would point the gun onto police and our government didn’t do it’s best to prevent that from happening.
Indictment. Simple. Formally charge the one(s) responsible of committing a crime. It’s astonishing the length law enforcement will go to protect their own in face of unshakeable and raw evidence. It’s astonishing that as video footage shows Tamir gunned down in seconds, Freddie Gray overpowere and Oscar Grant straddled that we are left empty handed and disappointed. Why our government and law enforcement think we should maintain the utmost faith and respect in authority is quite foolish. How justified can killing a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun be? Before I move on, you know what I find so ironic about the deaths of Tamir, Oscar and Rekia Boyd (these name should honestly be household by now)? Their families won wrongful death lawsuits worth millions. Our justice system is so fucked up, it rather hand over millions of dollars in settlements (taxpayers money) than indict and lock up the officers who killed them in the first place. The officers were right in using their firearms but the victims death was due to misconduct? Makes sense.
I waited, watched and listened. I waited until the moment came to write. I watched the outcome play all over the news feeds. I listened to the opinions voiced from the high and spewed from the lowest of low.
I heard about the Dallas shootings the morning after it happened. I first saw it on CNN and my initial reaction was inquisition. The suspect was allegedly a sniper. So he had military experience? The sniper said he “hated and wanted to kill white people, especially cops while “negotiating” with police. Personally, I would like audio clips (if there’s any) to be release, simply because that type of statement could not come at a more hostile time. These officer shootings and officer killings show such an imbalance in our justice system. As we wait for photos to be released of the officers responsible for killing Alton and Philando, we all know how Micah Johnson looks. We were even provided with a photo reel of him sporting a dashiki to his military uniform. We know his name, we know his face. He will forever be immortalized as a symbol of hate and racism. We at least know who to direct our frustrations to, just as we did with the Pulse massacre shooter, Omar Mateen. Why do we need a picture? We deserve it.
The shooting and killing of the Dallas officers are tragic and despicable, but it could have been prevented. Those officers were fathers, sons, husbands, uncles, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. They were loved by someone. They were killed at work. The same can be said for Alton Sterling. Although his work uniform did not come with a badge and he took no oath to protect the citizens of his community–his job afforded him money to eat, as it did the officers. Alton was someone’s son, husband, father, friend, uncle, and neighbor. Selling CDs was his hustle. Selling CDs was his job. He was killed at work.
Hustle: Your by any means necessary for the necessary.
We know it when we see it. Selling CDs outside of a convenience store isn’t ideal, it may not seem legitimate. It may even sound ridiculous. But for a father with five children and wife, that was Alton’s hustle. Just as Eric Garner was on a sidewalk selling cigarettes. How it escalated to one in a chokehold and the other shot to death is the root of the issue. If our officers cannot deescalate an arrest to avoid harming the suspect, how protected our we from those sworn in to protect us? What happened seven years ago does not answer for what happened the day he was killed. But history has shown us people love to vindicate the villain, which is why I understand the message behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alton was wrestled to the ground by two officers and shot multiple times, yet we don’t want to believe this man was 100% innocent. It’s that hard to believe that officers can and do act recklessly. You may not want to believe it but it’s true. Philando was a registered gun carrier yet he was shot while in a car while his carry license sat in the glove comparment. Both of these men were killed in states that have open carry laws. Yet the biggest open carry supporter, National Rifle Association, is mute. We all know why, but let the president start discussing gun laws and we’ll see a swift NRA press release on second amendment infringement.
Then comes the tall-tales of Black Lives Matter being an extremist group that promotes hatred and killing of whites and excludes other races. This is why change needs to happen, desperately. It’s beyond ridiculous and tiring to explain #BlackLivesMatter means inclusion not exclusion. If you are an advocate for #AllLivesMatter and someone says “Black lives matter” and you respond “all lives matter” you are STILL saying BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Say I was a parent and went up to my child’s school to discuss the mistreatment towards my child by the teacher. Although other students were mistreated too but my concern is my child. I express my concerns to the faculty and they question why they should focus only on my concerns and my child. I say “Well, my child matters,” and I’m told my child isn’t the only child who matters because other students are in the class too.
You can either live your life only concerned about yourself or understand that you are apart of a bigger community and it’s not always about you. I don’t have to be concerned only about MY child if I know the teacher mistreating ALL the students is wrong. The Black Lives Matter movement emphasizes blackness, but it’s under the umbrella of ALL lives being worth something. If you can’t see that, it’s a dead end argument.
Just how every cop is not a bad cop. Not everyone who walks in a BLM march is a true advocate of equality. There are a few trouble makers sprinkled in who want a reason to smash a window and burn a building. That’s given, but to denounce an entire movement as nothing more than the “new KKK” is pure fuck shit. tomi lahren is everything I don’t agree with when it comes to yellow journalism and why I majored in journalism. For her to tweet that BLM parallels the KKK and say that it’s “destructive, damaging and dangerous” is why she still and will always have a job. But I’ll wait until I see BLM supporters burning crosses and lynching to go any further.
If talking about race in America makes you uncomfortable, you are part of the problem. If talking about your body makes you uncomfortable, how do you know when something is wrong? You don’t. You’re oblivious to your health simply because you refuse to talk about it. If you want to know why protestors go so hard for police indictment, ask a Black mother with a son. If we–as a nation–can’t hold the police accountable for their actions we might as well say we’re living in a real life The Purge film. If your argument is that Black people aren’t this passionate when Blacks kill Blacks, you too are the problem. Trust me, Black people love to say this too. The issue is police DON’T go to jail. The Black suspect who killed the Black victim will go to jail. The officer who killed the victim does not. But your cousin, brother, husband, boyfriend is missing out on life for an ounce of weed. Harsh sentencing for petty crime is an ENTIRE different discussion. The killing in general has to stop. But when the police come into the communities they serve, shoot first and ask questions later that is apples to oranges.
When we have video footage showing Eric and Alton pinned to the ground struggling to move we can protest against officers saying they resisted an arrest. And it’s not just Black people. Last month a Kansas City officer was sentenced to four years in prison when he tasered a teenager in the chest for 23 seconds and dislocating his jaw as he literally tossed him on the sidewalk afterwards. Google it and when you do you’ll see the officer and teenager were both white. So do cops go to jail?
The justice system sees what it wants to see. People see what they want to see. Video after video surfaces of this type of behavior caught on camera. You cannot keep telling a nation that and expect no pushback. Yet we continually hear the same outcome even when cameras are rolling. What’s the point of police wearing body cameras when videos only get them paid administrative leave?
We must look at the catalyst to the Dallas shootings. The only way we can move forward is to address the why. Why did that happen? We know what happened. We know how it happened. We know when it happened. And we even know who it happened to, but if we don’t acknowledge the WHYs, we’re ignoring the issue. You can’t mourn the fallen officers without addressing the reason for their killing. That’s backwards, you have to start from the beginning. Every time an officer gets off without a trial, it tells me our justice system rather risk more casualties. If you know people are going to react negatively to a verdict, you are purposely refusing to change the outcome. You have a presidential candidate who said out his mouth he could shoot someone in the street and not lose voters. Watch that here if you like listening to fuck shit.
My point is: America get your shit together, we all have a hustle’ in us.
(Alton Sterling drawing used in image here.)