Waking up to headline after headline of mass killings and black lives dying at the hands of police, I am struck by the fact that racism, ignorance and bigotry has not only continued to thrive in the 21st century, but it rules our society. On Tuesday it was Alton Sterling, Wednesday we read about Philando Castile and this morning it’s five officers and one black man hanging from a tree. I am ashamed of who we’ve become.
Every day we shout, type and post about #injustice, #blacklivesmatter and voice our opinions on gun control. Each night we go to bed in our safe homes, holding onto the notion that we can make a difference by doing nothing at all. “Enough is enough,” we claim, and yet fear grasps us by the throat and holds us down until we choose safety over action. Wake up, America.
Jesse Williams’ now infamous speech rings so much louder today than it did even just two weeks ago. “I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich,” he urged. But here we are again, in the same position, offering our prayers and moments of silence. It’s not enough.
There are good cops out there, I fully believe this. But if they are not willing to stand up to their colleagues, then they are part of the problem. If we cannot or will not speak up against police brutality, we are part of the problem. The gun is in our hands, their blood runs across our fingers. It’s time to take a stand, not fighting violence with violence, but by demanding justice at the foot of the White House steps and at the doors of our local government offices. We should not rest until those who’ve murdered innocent lives are brought to justice. United we stand, divided we fall.
All lives matter? Yes. But black lives are being targeted so no matter what color you are, this should be your charge. In 2016 alone, police killed 123 black people according to The Washington Post, last year that number was 258. Remember their names. Dontre Hamilton. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown Jr. Ezell Ford. Dante Parker. Tanisha Anderson. Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice. Rumain Brisbon. Jerame Reid. Tony Robinson. Phillip White. Eric Harris. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Kathryn Johnson. Sean Bell. Rekia Boyd. Amadou Diallo. Kimani Gray. Kenneth Chamberlain. Travares McGill. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile.
Every day African American men and women step onto a battle field, and while I can’t begin to imagine what that feels like, I know they shouldn’t have to live in constant fear for their lives. These beautiful humans need to know that justice will be on their side in the future. Otherwise we’ve failed them. This is no longer a sweep-it-under-the-rug topic, it’s an epidemic.
How do we make a difference? We write letters, we join (peaceful) protests, we educate ourselves on racism, support movements financially, teach law enforcement the difference between skin color and a violent criminal, and we refuse to let injustice continue in our court systems. But we don’t do nothing, we don’t sit behind computers and allow Twitter to speak for us. We’re too far past that point now. This is the only world we get, let’s stop screwing it up.