Kicking off a week dedicated to dialogue and prayer, 5 points to reflect upon after the latest police shootings involving Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
I’m a person who hates generalizing people by color. Descendants of Africa are the most diverse-colored race in the world. You will find white, brown, golden and black Africans in all regions of Africa and the rest of the world. Calling them black was in fact the first step in putting them in a box. However, seeing that we must recognize that identity that unites us, and that identity being the term ‘black’, we must embrace the unity and boldness that Black Lives Matter embodies.
Some racists and nay-sayers try to brand it as an organization aimed at disturbing the peace. They say it is full of thugs looking for a reason to riot. They say it is a bunch of noise makers seeking undeserved attention. To them I say it is a movement that is here to stay. We as Africans - immigrants and other African Americans alike - must unite behind something that brings an end to an unfairness towards people of color - specifically within the justice system and law enforcement. Black Lives Matter is our hope - it is up to us to make it what history will remember it for.
The excuses that some police departments give for their lack of evidence against their own when they are involved in such despicable acts of violence are stupid to say the least. From ‘the suspect was resisting even though it does not appear so in the video’ to ‘it appears that the suspect was armed with something similar to a pocket knife but we are not sure that he tried to use it against the officer’ to ‘officer X has been with the police force for 5 years and has not been involved in a police shooting’. It is easy to see through the PD heads as they make these remarks. They might as well come out and say ‘I am not willing to hold my officers accountable for their actions.’ In which case, can we all just look at the Police as a Frat that does mostly good but isn’t willing to clean up in areas where it is rotting? Or shall the real honest protectors of peace please stand up? And by standing up, I don’t mean arresting witnesses in retaliation.
If anyone had a vile temper, they are inclined to take it out on an easy subject. In many of these cases, these subjects happen to be young men - mostly black - whom the world can easily write off as ‘thugs’. If police officers were required to use deadly force only if clearly approached by a suspect, or when they clearly saw a gun, and prosecuted if that simple rule was not followed, they would find it harder to shoot. In such cases of vile temper meets easy subject, we would have mostly unfair arrests that gave the victims an opportunity to testify against their abusers. But this has always been the wild wild west. Police officers are allowed to fire as many times as they wish. It is not intended to incapacitate. It is intended to kill. The shots fired on Alton Sterling, who was clearly on the ground and held in place, could have been into the arm that was ‘trying to raise a gun’. Instead, they were fired right into the chest. This is an embodiment of the gun violence culture that has gripped the United States. Perhaps it has made some of us numb to taking a life.
When there is a certain level of distrust towards the police force and the local governments that oversee them in cases of police shootings, you would expect lawmakers to make moves to protect all citizens, and cool tempers, by moving the jurisdiction over such cases to higher courts. But it appears that the justice department and federal law enforcement continue to be helpless in overseeing the outcomes, with inept local authorities carrying out investigations amidst continued distrust, and lawmakers continue to sit on their butts and wonder why they were voted into office. Or are they simply disrespectful towards people of color?
On a conclusive and lighter note, I’d like to congratulate the big companies - Facebook and Google, as well as others, that have taken up the responsibility to extending education about issues of injustice towards people of color to their employees, and specifically upholding the honorable intentions of the Black Lives Matter movement. They say charity begins at home. But charity begins at work in our society today. It is sad that in most workplaces it is shunned upon to speak of race issues, and yes the workplace is a place where inspiration towards change could begin.
Have a nice week of reflection, prayer and dialogue as we hope for meaningful change, justice and healing!