Updated: Jun 19, 2020
I struggled with how I wanted to address this topic. As a black woman living in America I felt it was my duty to speak up not only because of the platform I have, but also because of my own experiences. I know all too well the fears and what it means to be black in America.
Being black in America is dangerous. Being black is America means being hated simply for the color of your skin. Being black in America means being seen as an automatic violent threat. Being black in America is experiencing a purse clench or sidewalk switch just for looking “suspicious.” Being black in America means being killed while going for a run. Being black in America means having property valued over your life. Being black in America means living in fear daily. The threat to black life isn't only the police. Everyday Americans like the “Karen's” & the Amy Cooper’s pose a threat to black life everyday as well.
Racism, a lack of regard for black life and the senseless killing of black people is not a new. Black people have been getting murdered, profiled, harassed and targeted in this country for years. Dating back to civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B DuBois, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X who fought for black rights and led some of the largest and most successful Civil Rights Movements in history. I am a big believer in the idea that "history repeats itself." More than 20 decades after the notorious 1992 Los Angeles Rodney King riots, America is once again under attack. This time it’s not just one city, it's the entire nation. Every state in America is currently experiencing some sort of civil disturbance, rioting, protesting or looting. America is under fire, about time.
The recent killing of unarmed George Floyd lit a fire to an already boiling #BlackLivesMatterMovement and revolution. The viral video footage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, once again highlighted a lack of regard for black life in America. The killings of unarmed black men like Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and most recently George Floyd, by the police, has grabbed national attention sparking protests and riots across the country. The lack of regard for black life and the senseless killings of black people will no longer go on.
A riot is the language of the unheard.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
When Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, kneeled before every game to protest police brutality, he faced criticism and backlash from thousands. People claimed he was “disrespecting the flag” and “disrespecting those who served the country” despite Colin speaking to a veteran who served, prior to him kneeling. Retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, who first convinced Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem said in a interview:
And, you know, people - in my opinions and in my experience, kneeling's never been in our history really seen as a disrespectful act. I mean, people kneel when they get knighted. You kneel to propose to your wife, and you take a knee to pray. And soldiers often take a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave to pay respects. So I thought, if anything, besides standing, that was the most respectful. But, of course, that's just my opinion.
Colin’s purpose behind kneeling was overshadowed, by a false narrative, that he and others were disrespecting the flag and disrespecting veterans, although the goal was to always shine a light on police brutality and the oppression of colored people. Boyer emphasized that point when he was asked retell his conversation with Colin about his stance:
You know, this was two years ago, 2016 during the preseason. And he, you know, had sat on the bench. And I think it was actually his third time he'd sat on the bench. But it was the first time it had received national attention. And, you know, he got questioned about it, and he said, well, I'm not going to stand for the flag of a country that oppresses black people and people of color. And then he talked about, you know, social injustices and police brutality and why he thought, you know, he shouldn't be standing for the anthem.
Kaepernick and those who supported him in kneeling were scrutinized harshly even by the President of the United States who called them “sons-of-bitches.” This peaceful protest in response to police brutality and black oppression was disregarded, pushed to the side and gaslighted. We tried it the peaceful way. Now it’s time for a revolution.
When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction.
- Colin Kaepernick
No one can determine or deem appropriate how a person or community should respond to years of oppression, racism and a broken system, especially not the oppressor. Enough is enough.
Still don't get it?
Why did Colin kneel?
Why are we protesting?
Gregory Gunn, 58
Gregory Gunn, an unarmed black man, killed one step away from his home. According to a police statement, Office Aaron Smith of the Montgomery, Alabama Police Department “approached a suspicious person and a struggle ensued.” Officer Smith has been charged with Gunn’s death.
Brendon Glenn, 29
Officer Clifford Proctor of the Los Angeles Police Department fatally shot and killed unarmed Brendon Glenn in 2015. Security footage from a nearby bar disputed Proctor’s claim that Glenn’s hand was on Proctor's partners holster. Unarmed, Glenn was on his back pushing himself up when he was shot. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck’s recommendation that criminal charges be brought against Officer Proctor was the first time he recommended charges be brought against an officer in a shooting.
Freddie Gray, 25
Freddie Gray died from a broken neck, while in a police transport van restrained with handcuffs and leg irons. Six Baltimore police officers were arrested on charges ranging from misconduct to second degree murder in the death of Freddie Gray. None of them have faced jail time. The trial of the first officer arraigned Officer William Porter, charged with involuntary manslaughter, ended in a hung jury. Two other officers were acquitted by a judge during bench trials.
Yvette Smith, 47
Yvette Smith was fatally shot by a deputy of the Bastrop County, Texas Police Department while sitting on her front porch on February 16th, 2014. According to reports, the sheriff’s office initially said the mother of two was armed. They later retracted the statement.
Rekia Boyd, 22
Rekia Boyd was fatally shot in the head after an off-duty Chicago detective fired five shots into an alley. Boyd was in an alley with friends, when the off duty detective and someone from the group begin to change words. The detective subsequently fired rounds into the alley killing Boyd on March 21st, 2012. No weapons were found in the alley
Manuel Loggins Jr. 31
Marine sergeant and father of three Manuel Loggins Jr. was killed after displaying a “mean expression.” An Orange Country Sheriff's Deputy fired three shots through a car window killing Logggins, while his two daughter watched. According to reports, after Loggins crashed through a gate at San Clemente High School, he reportedly ignored orders to show his hands and displayed a mean expression which caused the sheriff to fear for his safety. The deputy was never charged.
Ronald Madison, 40 & James Brissette, 17
Ronald Madison and James Brissette were both killed after being shot by New Orleans police days after Hurricane Katrine destroyed the city. A small unarmed group including, disabled Ronald Madison was out in search for food and supplies, when the police opened fire on the bunch. Four others were also wounded in the shooting . Five former New Orleans police officers plead guilty to obstructing justice after the police department later tired to cover up the shooting, claiming they had been shot at. Five years later, the five officers have received less prison time after pleading guilty to reduced charges. In 2012, an additional 5 officers were convicted of civil rights violations with prions time ranging from 6 to 65 years.
Do not lose sight of the big issue because of looting and false narratives created by the media.
By Michel Martin
By Daniel Funke & Tina Susman
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