When Will Black Lives Matter In Oklahoma?

My distrust of the police started in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I grew up in that town, I’ve driven on those roads and too often my blackness felt like a burden.

I remember how much fear surrounded the day my brother got his drivers license. I remember how my Mama made someone drive behind me the first time I took the car out alone. We were not only Black but Black with African surnames no one could pronounce in a town where people still waved confederate flags at summer BBQs.

So I know they didn’t need evidence of a weapon to kill Terence Crutcher. White folks have a long history of killing people of color in Oklahoma for simply being. We are the worn in leather of the Bible Belt and yet our state history is steeped in sin.

The Tulsa Police Department let Terence Crutcher bleed to death in the middle of the street. The same way they let white folks burn down Greenwood. The same way they let the law harass undocumented immigrants. The same way they let public officials ignore the rights of indigenous folks. The same way they let Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw rape Black women.

They’ve been letting us bleed out for a long time.

I was 18 when I left home and have rarely returned. Not because I don’t have love for my hometown but because elected officials in Oklahoma have spent more time courting the political interests of Donald Trump than listening to the concerns of their Black constituents.

I was taught to believe that change is impossible — the dirt is too dry and the people are too stubborn for a movement to grow. But they shot Terence Crutcher with his hands up and suddenly home seemed too close. It’s a place that I resent so fiercely for the same reason the Tulsa Police Department shot Terence Crutcher. To a lot of people, Black lives do not matter in Oklahoma.

I don’t know what to do or what will happen in my hometown but Officer Betty Shelby’s decision to kill an unarmed Black man in a place I call home has left me numb.

Rest in power Terence. We will not forget.