Whatever happened to stun guns, pepper spray or shooting to injure, not kill? Once again, yet another Black male has been shot dead by a White police officer. Like the others before him, Tony Robinson was a young Black male with a promising future. Like Amadou, Sean, Trayvon, Michael, Eric and countless others, he was a “suspect” of a suspicious activity or crime. With no clear evidence of their specific role, these Black males were executed on the street like rabid dogs! It’s ironic that the latest episode of Scandal portrayed this same horrific tragedy. Kudos to Shonda Rhimes for taking on this growing epidemic. The episode was poignant, heartbreaking and thought provoking; it’s arguably one of thee best episodes of the series.
Another irony is that this past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a historic event that represents some of the strides made in the ongoing fight against racial injustice in America. Per usual, President Obama’s speech was profound, filled with reverence, hope, and determination. I have great respect for our POTUS but, I can’t help thinking that no matter how many speeches that he makes, Black men will continue to be an endangered species. Their endangerment can’t be solely blamed on the carelessness of White police officers though. In the scene from Scandal, when the officer who killed the young Black man was confronted, he angrily stated his frustrations with serving and protecting Blacks who openly defy his authority and have no respect for or trust in the system. He continued his condemnation by stating the fact that more murders are committed by Blacks on each other than by police officers. He ended his rant by saying, “his blood isn’t on my hands!” I didn’t even realize that I was holding my breath, until several seconds after that scene ended. I was stimulated and angered by his words because, unfortunately they are true. I agree with those who say, where’s the activism and outrage for Black on Black crimes? I honestly don’t have an answer to that question. There’s outrage but, not on the grand scale as when the killing is at the hands of a White police officer. Just like the sting is felt when someone besides a Black person uses the N word, it’s different when we are killed by those who are in a subjective position of power. Especially when that position has been forced on us for generations.
A vicious cycle of separation from core values, poverty, poor education and services, disenfranchisement, and apathy has been pumped into the Black community for centuries. The manufacturing and distribution of drugs has added a devastating dynamic to this cycle. Because of this cycle, we have lost sight of the greatness from which we came; the heritage and prestige of the African Kings and Queens from whom we originated. So, after listening to that crooked cop minimize and justify his killing of an unarmed teen, I had to admit that he is partly right. A justifiable culture of contempt and fear has become second nature in our communities. We are consciously and subconsciously teaching our children to respect yet, fear those who are supposed to “protect and serve”. Many of us are not teaching respect at all, we are defaulting to hyper vigilance and distrust which adds layers of disrespect and disregard to that culture of contempt and fear.
Growing up in the hood, I rarely looked at the police as what they were intended to be because my perception was tainted by witnessing constant crime and corruption. I can’t honestly say that I ever felt protected and served. As I got older, my perception grew more guarded and weary. As someone who has worked extensively with the public, I know that there are good cops out there. I know that the police are overworked, underpaid and unappreciated. However, the old saying rings true: one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, and in the case of police in America, there are numerous bad apples spoiling the bunch.
A mother’s prayer always asks that her children remain safe and protected. Mine are said with a special request for my little Black boy. My heart bleeds for the mothers and families of those who have lost their loved ones. I was literally sobbing as I watched that episode of Scandal. Not only was I moved by the actors’ performances, I was saddened by the glaring fact that the outcome in real life does not mimic the one portrayed on TV. Justice isn’t blind, it’s biased and partial. Me and my husband face the challenging task of having conversations with both of our children about what to do when they encounter police. I want to teach my children to respect and trust the police but, my conflict comes with knowing that the respect and trust that we teach them is not mutual. How many more marches, petitions and protests will there be before a real solution is put into place? How many more of our young Black males’ futures will be eliminated before this madness stops?