Skittles... Loud music... Cigarettes... Toy gun... Failure to signal... And now CD’s. Not even 24 hours after celebrating good ole ‘Merica… We are reminded that racism is this nation’s favorite pastime. Where living the American Dream is contingent upon the color of your skin.
The next victim
Alton Sterling, age 37, father of five, was fatally shot six times by police outside of a Baton Rouge convenience store. For what? We’re not too sure. But do the police even need a reason anymore? While we don’t have “all the facts,” the proof is in the 48-second video.
Life before the hashtag
Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling was murdered, was friends with him for six years and never knew him to be confrontational. In fact, Sterling was known as the laid-back “CD man,” trying to make an honest living for his family. With the permission of Muflahi, he frequently would sell his CDs in the store parking lot to members of the community. Muflahi said he saw the officers slam Sterling onto a car and onto the ground. “They told him not to move. He was asking them what he did wrong.”
As if the video was not horrifying enough, we recently learned that Sterling never pulled his gun out on the police. His hand was never even on his gun. Yet Sterling was the 558th person to be murdered by police this year. Ring a bell? When racist police officers target black men, the injustice doesn't stop there. Instead, we see an extreme case of victim-shaming.
Victim-shaming the black community
The black community is taught to keep calm and not to “be so angry.” To think about dressing more “appropriately” (in other words, more “white”). To “forgive and forget.” “Don’t wear a hoodie.” “Don’t look at a cop the wrong way.” “Don’t forget to wear a belt.” “Don’t put your hat on backwards.” “Don’t play that rap music too loud.” Textbooks have informed us that racist officers hunting our black men – our fathers, brothers, uncles, and sons is the norm. That the images we see on Fox News are an accurate portrayal of who they really are… Vilified and all.
What about the cops?
What part of the American Dream is this anyway? Where our system of accountability demands no accountability for its boys in blue. Who will lecture officers that they need to protect before they serve their own hateful agenda? Are we supposed to just accept that the men intended to shield us from harm will continue to hunt us as their prey? I mean, we could go to Church and pray on it but we are not even safe there anymore. I am beginning to think that safety in the black community is a figment of our imagination. And the reality is there is an actual war on the black community and their blood… our blood… is on the hands of the government that is supposed to be for us.
There are two justice systems in America
Louisiana recently passed the Blue Lives Matter Bill, which according to former police Lt. Randy Sutton of Las Vegas, is “important because symbolically it advises that there is a value to the lives of police officers. When you give value, it acts as a deterrent in one sense, but it is also a tool to add extra punishment for the assaults and the crimes against them.” Oh, I get it… Hate crimes will not be tolerated in Louisiana, unless of course, you are a police officer; only then is it justified. Which makes sense when you acknowledge that there are two justice systems in America - one for black America and one for white.
They... we matter
Black tears matter. Black families matter. Black justice matters. Black. Lives. Matter. And are worth much more than being reduced to a mere hashtag that will be forgotten in a week. We cannot let hashtags become the new obituaries. Alton Sterling and his family deserve more than thoughts, prayers, and retweets. They deserve their father, their husband, their loved one. They… We… deserve and demand justice. #Policy #Crime