Our Conversation About Terence Crutcher

His car stalled. Literally, his car stalled. And they shot him. Sorry, not shot him. MURDERED him. He was following directions. He wasn’t doing anything wrong.

My friend / co-founder Zuley Clarke and I spent a lot of time yesterday watching and re-watching the horrifying video of Terence Crutcher dying on September 16, 2016.

I’m an Indian American and may be a minority in the US, but when I was watching the video, I kept thinking, I don’t know what this feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to constantly live in fear for something I cannot control. Just for being black. Zuley is a black woman from Panama. So I asked her.

Me: “Do you experience racism on a daily basis that I don’t? What is it like?”

Loaded question. She tilted her head and said, “Yeah, probably.” And then continued on, talking about how she felt when she saw the video. When she heard this man’s story. How she feels when any of these stories come out, and how it impacts her.

I thought her insight was incredibly profound so I wanted to share it, to contribute — in some small way — to the conversation. To keep reminding myself that racism is not, in fact, dead. And that it’s important to have these conversations.

Zuley: “I am desensitized to a lot of racism. A lot that happens just doesn’t register. I am so used to reading it. I don’t feel it as much, which is really sad. It’s a really sad state to be in. It’s like the level of racism is so high and frequent I really just don’t even feel the little things anymore. And then they become big things.”
“And…I don’t want to be the voice of every black person. I don’t represent every black person. You contend with that too, right? When certain things happen you feel like, is this a teachable moment or should I just let it go? It’s a heady feeling to know that at times, you represent an entire race. Or you feel like you do.”
Me: I know what you mean. Sometimes just to live our lives, we try to ignore or heavily filter out things that are potentially bad or controversial. I think as minorities, sometimes we just want to feel like we’re the same as everyone else. Because representing our race feels like a big responsibility. And then videos like this come out and we are forced to face reality.”
Zuley: “I really hope that everyone in America is horrified by this. He’s a PERSON. He has family, he has friends, he has a job, he has responsibilities. He laughs. He has a full life, just like we do. But just because he’s black, he has been reduced to a stereotype. A dangerous person. In America, you can’t even do the mundane when you’re black. You’re fearful that an ordinary thing will get you killed. It has nothing to do with you as a person, but just what you look like. The world shouldn’t be like that. America shouldn’t be like that.”