What is it about the color BLACK? Does the word BLACK rip into your skin like a bullet speeding at 1,700 miles per hour? Does the word BLACK frighten you enough to lock your doors and roll your windows up as I walk by? Does the word BLACK condemn you to judge me based upon my appearance without knowing my true inner-self? Does the word BLACK automatically give way to all the stereotypical traits that I am so-called predisposed to? Does the word BLACK coerce you to look the other way and ignore the impetuous injustices that are happening to my brothers and sisters? It is up to you to objectively look within, and to find the answer to these questions. But as you do, let me tell you about another perspective, but not just any perspective, one of this BLACKNESS.
Let this BLACK, young man paint you a picture on this canvas that we call our society these days. We turn on the news, and find yet another slain BLACK man. The media broadcasts this winding narrative of what occured to this man in a way that we as BLACKS feel is a slap in the face each and every time we hear it. It almost seems as if it’s a continuous cycle and process of stereotyping and outright condemnation of the one who was targeted by the police. First, we see the BLACK vilified by using mugshots from prior arrets instead of other less diabolizing photos. We immediately, but unsubconsciously associate and portray this BLACK man with words like, “thug, criminal, troublemaker, and/or delinquent.” Then once these counteractive adjectives become attached to the slain, the media starts to find ways as to how the accused was in the wrong, without knowing all of the facts. The prior history is used against the BLACK man to further portray them as guilty or that they deserved what was coming to them, death. We hear phrases thrown at us through the television like: “he had a few run-ins with the law; he had a prior history with selling drugs; he had been busted for using drugs in the past.” Yes, while these activities from the past may be true, don’t we all have a past that we are not proud of? Just because this BLACK man doesn’t have the most positive past, does that unequivocally mean that he deserved what was coming to him?
I have always heard the words, “innocent until proven guilty,” ever since my first adolescent history class. It’s a right that all men and women have. At the same time, I hear, “we as Americans are all equal under the law.” But my BLACK brothers and sisters don’t feel the same. For us that lesson of “innocent until proven guilty” has more likely turned into “death until proven guilty.”
But why do we BLACKS feel this way? You may say, “why is it #BLACKLIVESMATTER, shouldn’t it be #ALLLIVESMATTER?” The reason we use #BLACKLIVESMATTER is not to separate and to only focus on the importance of us BLACKS, but instead it is used to bring attention to the abuses we go through. We just want our voices heard, our stories to not be overlooked or condemned, we want justice to be served equally without bias. We want our true equality under the law, so that if a Caucasian man, Asian man, Indian man, or whatever other ethnicity were to be targeted by police, they wouldn’t be downright shot and killed without the officer being undoubtedly in reasonable fear for his/her life. Tomi Lahren, host of The Blaze, recently brought up the phrase “staying woke” that is used frequently in the Black Lives Matter movement, and from her comments it seemed as if she didn’t completely understand why that phrase is used. No it’s not simply being awake, instead it’s being AWARE. Awareness is key. Us BLACKS do not want these epidemic-like atrocities of our people being killed at the hands of the law to go unnoticed and overlooked.
What do you feel inside when you hear the seemingly never-ending tale of a BLACK man being unlawfully killed at the hands of an officer? Myself, as a BLACK man, it painfully strikes me like the force of a thousand whips breaking into my skin. I feel sadness swallow me whole like the casket that this lifeless body would be put into. At the same time I feel rage and anger that these malpractices are still occurring, and justice prevailing is just too few. This stirring pot of emotions become whisked harder and harder, and a bad taste is left in my mouth with each case. My mind cries out with each video I see of my BLACK brothers and sisters being profiled without evident probable cause. It’s as if I am going back in time, to a time where these events were normal. I pray that the next generation does not have to go through these same gut-wrenching feelings.
To whomever, may be reading this, you may counter-argue with the above by saying, “at the end of the day, if you commit a crime, then you deserve what is coming to you.” But please, look deeper than that. Whatever background you may come from, please place yourself in our shoes, the lives of BLACK America. Think of it being your son, father, daughter, mother, uncle, aunt, cousin, or whomever as the one who’s life was taken at the hands of the law. Never being able to laugh with them again, to hold them again, to kiss them again, to spend time with them again, but to only look into the words of a tombstone with their name, birthdate, and death date. A life taken too soon.
— To the family of Alton Sterling, we feel your pain. We will always remember the part of your family that was lost too soon. May we never let our stories go unnoticed, may we never forget. Rest in Peace, beautiful black soul.