I am a black woman, and I am tired.
I am tired of seeing people that look like me choked, beaten, gunned-down, stop and frisked, over-policed, racially profiled, and murdered. I’m tired of seeing people that look like me receive harsher prison sentences, and I’m tired of seeing people that look like me presumed guilty before they get a chance to prove their innocence.
Last week the world watched George Floyd die slowly for 8 minutes. One cop held his knee to George’s neck, two others held his body down, and the last one stood by to make sure bystanders didn’t stop the MURDER that was in progress. The cops were called in the first place because a store owner accused him of using a counterfeit $20 bill. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not worth an execution by suffocation. George didn’t die because he was hurting anyone, he didn’t die because he killed anyone, he didn’t even die because he used a bill that he may, or may not have known, was counterfeit. He died because the officers of the law that were supposed to protect and serve (whose salaries are paid by the very citizens the abuse) took it upon themselves to be the judge, jury, and executioners. George simply didn’t die; he was murdered because they didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. He was murdered because, to them, his life, freedom, and rights didn’t matter.
Year after year and decade after decade, black people are murdered by the very people that are in place to protect us.
Something has to change.
You stole our ancestors from their native land, raped and beat our men, women, and children. You ripped apart our families and made postcards of our dead and burning bodies hanging from trees. You manipulated the words of The Bible to keep us enslaved. You offered us a glance at freedom, then changed laws to re-enslave us all over again, under the 13th amendment. You bombed our homes (Tulsa, Oklahoma; Black Wall Street). You hosed us, burned down our churches, murdered our leaders, and you released dogs on us (Civil Rights Era). You sent us to the front lines of many wars to be killed, for a country that hates us. You ran experiments on us and stole our DNA (Tuskeegee and Henrietta Lacks). You allowed your racist leaders to take off their white robes, put on uniforms and suits, and infiltrate all government levels (google that yourself). You wrote laws that were supposed to be fair and just, but black and brown people often get the short end of the stick compared to their white counterparts.
This country was built on the backs of slaves. The contributions of African-Americans to this country are immeasurable. From gardening, science, to technology, much of what we all use today is due to an ancestor that looked like me; but you don’t care.
When we didn’t know the language to speak, you killed us. When we learned to read, you killed us. When we marched peacefully, you killed us. When we fought back, you killed us. When we took a knee, you hated us; and you’re still killing us.
Something has to change.
It’s time for the police and elected officials to be called out and held accountable for sitting on the sidelines and allowing so many injustices to happen. As a tax-paying citizen, I have a right to walk down the street and feel safe knowing that my skin color will not be a reason I may not make it home.
Well, what about black on black crime? You ask. — Here’s the deal. — If Pookie from across the street murders Ray-Ray, Pookie is getting arrested, tried, and convicted. Pookie will not be able to say, “I thought I saw a gun” or “I feared for my life,” then go home to a meal with his family.
There is a lack of justice when the murder is committed by a person who wears a badge. And in more recent cases, had a badge, or is a friend of someone with a badge.
Ahmaud Arbrey was going for a run, minding his own business, when three racists (retired officers) took it upon themselves to consider him a criminal worthy of being shot; because they claimed, he fit a description. This murder happened in February, but the local department and the elected officials felt no need to question their motives. Only after the video was leaked, and social media rained down a fiery hell-storm, were the men arrested. It later surfaced that there was no report out or description.
A coward of a man murdered Trayvon Martin. That man left the safety of his vehicle, pursued Martin on foot, called 911 (and the dispatcher told him, he didn’t need to pursue him). He continued to follow Trayvon and started an altercation that ended with him shooting and murdering Trayvon. And despite his prior history of being prejudice, despite the fact that he initiated the entire incident, despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was defending his own life (with his bare hands), his murderer was found not guilty. Because the law said that, all that matters was a few lost minutes of a fight. And because the murderer may have experienced fear (during a fight he caused), he walked away, a free man.
Something has to change.
Officers and people with badges have to stop using fear as an excuse when they take an innocent life. The fact that cop after cop fears for their life, over a gun that is, often, never there means one of two things. Officers need to get their eyes examined, so they can be sure that what they see is a gun, or they should go back to school to pursue a different line of work. If defending a community of people is too scary for you, go back to school and become an accountant or a dentist. I’m tired of people in uniforms that carry badges, are armed with a taser, a baton, and a gun using fear as an excuse for the murder of an unarmed black or brown person. I’m tired of these same people in uniforms, having little to no fear when the perpetrator is white. They could’ve just shot up a school, a church, or a synagogue, but, for some reason, the fear the officers had when the perpetrator was black, disappears into thin air.
Why are cops able to apprehend a white mass-shooter, for them to have their day in court. But a black man coming out of a night club (Sean Bell), a kid playing in the park (Tamir Rice), a black man selling a cigarette on the street (Eric Garner), and so many more, are not worthy of the same due-process?
Early in May, a white man (Joshua Kelsey), who had multiple run-ins with the law since 2007, and had been in front of numerous judges, went on a killing spree and murdered three individuals. The details on how they apprehended him are still unclear. But you know what didn’t happen, they didn’t murder him. Despite killing three people, he’s still alive to see his day in court.
And here are just a few more that fit the same profile.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida; 17 dead, suspect arrested and charged with premeditated murder.
Walmart in El Paso, Texas; 22 dead, suspect arrested and charged with capital murder
Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, 11 dead, suspect arrested and faces multiple charges
Santa Fe High School, Texas; 10 dead, suspect arrested and faces capital murder charges
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, South Carolina; 9 dead, suspect arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.
These above, white murderers, were led away from the incident with their lives intact, despite the lives they had just stolen. Where is the fear when the threat is undeniable? And why are officers so scared when the only danger of a weapon is all in their heads?
Something has to change.
Like I said in the beginning, I’m tired of seeing the gross amount of injustice. I know that it is not all cops, but if you’re silent and complacent with the officers that are corrupt and go too far, you’re guilty by association. I know that not every elected official and politician is corrupt. If you don’t address the issues of all people within your jurisdiction, or don’t do your part to set right the wrongs that happen, you’re guilty by association. Lastly, I know that not every white person is prejudice or racist. From my work to school, to my extracurricular groups, and in my dating life, the white people that I know empathize with the difficulties we face while being black; they also want to see a change.
But, here’s the problem, if you don’t acknowledge the terrible things done to our people, and you don’t want to learn, your complacency is a problem. If video surfaces of an unarmed black person being held down and beaten by cops, and your first response is, “We don’t know the whole story,” you’re willful and blind arrogance is a problem. If you commented on riots and looting, but said nothing about George Floyd’s death, that the world is outraged by, that’s a problem. If, after everything, you still don’t understand why Colin Kapernick took the knee. You’re a problem, and I don’t know what else to say.
It’s up to lawmakers and elected officials to make changes and hold others accountable for their actions and poor judgment. It’s time for all of us to ban together and put our collective knee on the neck of the government to push for change. We pay their salaries, so we have the power; we just have to learn to wield it. Here are a few suggestions.
- Let’s work to rebuild trust between the community and the officers within the community.
- Let’s stop trying to find excuses, and start prosecuting killer cops.
- Mandate periodical psychological evaluations and drug tests.
- Perform thorough background checks on all officers.
- Make it illegal for an officer not to have a body-cam and a dash-cam (on and functioning) in all 50 states.
- Re-train and remind officers that they work for the people, and they’re paid to serve the people.
- Train all officers in all 50 states, to respond with the least amount of force.
- Start making the officer and their precincts responsible for the crimes they commit against unarmed and innocent civilians. If officers know they’ll be liable and they can’t hide behind a badge and a lie, they’ll start thinking before they shoot.
The change doesn’t stop there. Beyond the officer, above the precinct, sits the elected officials. It’s time for them to be responsible for their lack of action as well. Your mayor, governor, senator, congressperson, etc.. Again, your tax dollars pay for their salaries, so they work for you. When the headlines shift, the work must continue. Organize a petition, write, call, show up at your elected official’s office, and push for a change. If they appear complacent with the tragedies you and your community face, vote them out and elect someone else. Do not sit by silently and wait for the next headline or election to get in the fight. For too long, the oppressed have been playing defense and losing. Now, it’s time to ban together, execute a plan, and play offense; because I’m tired of being on the losing team.
Something has to change.
A tired black woman.