What Happens to Justice Deferred?
We thought this was abstract?
We thought that the manufactured fear of Black men was all there would be to it?
We thought that was enough to keep Black people complacent?
We thought images of MLK Jr. would keep everyone docile?
Starting to look like that dream deferred does explode…
I’m not here to say that indiscriminately shooting at police officers is right. I’m not here to say murder is the way to redemption. I am not condoning the taking of lives. I am saying: What exactly did we think was going to happen? How long can you kick a man before he fights back? If we can look at White “active shooters” and examine what made them snap, how is this privilege not afforded to a Black man who has watched image after image of his people being murdered at the hands of his paid protectors?
We have been complicit in a culture that allows police the unilateral authority to abuse PoC for years. We have watched disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown bodies be locked away. We’ve said, “Stop and Frisk is a necessary reality.” We’ve hash-tagged and then moved on when man after woman after child was executed by those they are meant to trust to protect them. And now we want to act like one man taking to the retaliatory extreme is surprising?
White men barricade themselves in ranches and government buildings stockpiled with ammunition to protest against their idea of governmental overreach. Dylan Roof was taken into custody, peacefully, and it was splashed across our many screens. We see a little girl in a swimsuit being slammed to the ground by a police officer. We see a man begging to breathe. We see a child gunned down while playing in the park. These images, these narratives, remind us of the true lives of People of Color in our “great” nation. At what point was someone going to snap?
To quote Big Boi “I’m more Malcolm than Martin/Come get some/Be a target/Standing in the kitchen with the AK…” From the time that I grew up, I always felt more akin to Malcolm X. As I grew older and learned more about Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategizing, I realized that nonviolence was a tactic he adopted for the time. He knew that goading the police into abject brutality while the whole world was watching was the best way to affect change for the time. But, we’ve now watched this brutality occur over and over and over again and nothing has changed. Did we not believe that the chickens would come home to roost?
A Black friend texted me today saying “I’m scared.” And I realized that I wasn’t. Or, at least, that I wasn’t any more scared than I have been every other day of my adult life. Two cops walked into Chipotle, where I was having lunch, and my reaction was no different than any other day: warily eye them, make sure I don’t move too quickly, and leave as fast as I can. I haven’t felt safe in the presence of a cop since I was young enough to want to be one.
I don’t have any thoughts and prayers to give to the families of the police officers murdered last night. This is not a game and until we actually deal with the truth of the disease that is policing in the United States things will not get better. My thoughts and prayers do nothing for those families; our collective action to overhaul our Justice and Law Enforcement systems will.
The myth of the big scary Black man has been around since big buck field slaves were murdered to “protect” White women. We have been wrapped in this mythology that allows White men and women to think of us as hulking demons out to rape, murder, and pillage their communities. They stock up on guns to ensure their safety and then use the lack of assault by the Black beast as evidence of their stockpile’s effectiveness even though, in reality, the myth was just that, a myth.
Black men weren’t out to murder, rape, or pillage from White folks any more than they may have deserved it during slavery. And, as the years went on, intra-racial crime continued to be a fraction of the whole, and yet Black and Brown people were Jim-Crowed, red-lined, and jailed into separate and unequal spaces. Countless lives have been lost from within and outside of the community at an alarming rate. But, the myth of the Black beast coming for White people has been nothing more than a bedtime fiction for most of our history. The reality is a lot scarier than that fairytale, isn’t it?
Welcome to the fear we’ve experience daily. Now let’s fix it.