Warzone: A Black and White Reality

On Friday, the same day Terence Crutcher, another unarmed Black man was killed by law enforcement officers, rapper T.I. released a music video depicting police brutality. T.I.’s music video serves as a form of digital storytelling in that it re-enacts three different news worthy events, spreads a message about police brutality, and a message on how denying racism, is a form of racism.

The video begins with a warning of graphic material to follow. T.I. takes viewers on a journey through the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Philando Castile. But, instead of depicting them as they happened, he adds a twist: Rice, Garner, and Castile (as well as their families) are depicted as White, and each officer involved in their death, is depicted as Black.

As each event is portrayed, T.I. raps the words, “Can’t you see we’re living in a war zone? Guess you don’t notice when you living in it.” A message to individuals who don’t realize the killing of innocent Black men, is taking a toll on the Black community. But, that nothing is being done, because White people won’t stand up against the fight of police brutality and racism. T.I. goes on to rap, “Hands up, can’t breathe,” an ode to Mike Brown who died with his hands up, and Eric Garner who died saying “I can’t breathe.”

By the end of the video a White woman is seen getting on a bus, and is forced to sit at the back of the bus, like many Black people had to do before and during the Civil Rights Movement. As the woman continues to move to the back of the bus, a dedication page to Rice, Garner, and Castile is displayed. And in the background you can now hear Jane Elliott, an anti-racism activist, give her “Being Black” speech. In the bite used for the music video, you hear her ask White people to stand if they would like to be treated in the same manner as a Black person. She goes on to say no one is standing, which means White people understand what is happening, but choose not to make a difference, because it isn’t affecting them.

The video ends on a list of names of Black people whose lives have been taken at the hands of police brutality. Another dedication is written at the bottom of the screen, for all the people who didn’t receive media attention. I find it important to mention that as I write this post, I keep receiving breaking news alerts about another Black man who has been killed by law enforcement. While it is still too early in the investigation to officially determine if he was armed, should he be found unarmed, another name can be added to the list: Keith Lamont Scott.