On Philando Castile

Day 50

They’ve released dash cam footage of the Philando Castile shooting (lynching). I refuse to share it because I’m sick of the normalization of black death on my timeline, but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart and mind. Philando Castile was the calm and gentle person we heard about up until the last moments of his life. To the man who unjustly shot him SEVEN times while he was in the car with his girlfriend and her four-year-old little girl, Castile still tried to explain himself by saying, “I wasn’t reaching for it.” Those were his last words. Even as he faced imminent death, he put the officer’s needs before his.

Every single American should be outraged that a law-abiding citizen, doing his best to comply with a police officer, was murdered. Every American should be outraged that said officer is at home right now. People think it’s hyperbolic when we say we are in fear for our lives. The not guilty verdict just proved (again) that it is not illegal to be a police officer, be unreasonably afraid and kill an innocent black person. You think I had two UVA decals on my car because I was in love with the school? Wahoo-nah. What about our Penn license plate we have now? We use whatever we can to try to convince the world that our lives matter. It’s a daily reality and it’s sick.

I could have been Philando Castile. I once inadvertently “moved too quickly” at a traffic stop and the police officer told me, “You catch another cop on another day, you’ll end up with a bullet in you.” Yes, me. Manny Brown. Your neighbor, co-worker, study partner, teammate, classmate. What saved me? I don’t know. Perhaps it was my class, the officer’s age (experience), my clothing (wearing a suit), God? But should a 20-year-old college kid be that close to death during a routine traffic stop? Are we okay with this society?

It’s insane how we can demonize the oppressive North Korean government for killing Otto Warmbier, but turn our backs on the oppressive government killings happening in our own backyard. My heart breaks for Castile and his family. My heart breaks for all the families that have been affected by this and all those terrified they one day will.