Racism is still an issue in 2016. My morning commute to work this morning was different than most. For one, I didn't have my usual Pandora station playing, courtesy of my predicted data overage for the month. Instead, I had the radio playing and tears running down my face.
Why doesn't this country respect the lives of Black men and women? That's what I've been asking myself.
I drove down Parkway South listening to the audio of the killing of Philando Castile. Not even a full day had gone by before the previous killing of Alton Sterling but here we were again, mourning another life lost. If this is exhausting for me as an observer, I can only imagine the emotional pain and heartache felt by the relatives of these men. Not to mention the fact that a child was in the car and forced to witness such an atrocity. I respect the courage the woman who recorded the incident showed; she kept her composure and was able to clearly verbalize what was going on because we know just how easily her story would have been manipulated without it. Although every single situation we've seen thus far involving a police officer murdering an innocent black life was significant, I think this one really highlights the incompetence of certain officers. In the audio from the shooting of Philando Castile, I believe you can hear the officer whimpering, a clear identifier that he did something wrong. As the woman states, he asked Castile for his license and registration after the man clearly says he's carrying a concealed weapon THEN HE PROCEEDED TO SHOOT HIM. I'm not a police officer or anything but COMMON SENSE tells me that if you're doing a routine stop and you're told there's a weapon, you're going to want to disarm the person in question as the first order of business. And I won't say this cop got out of his car with the intentions of killing a Black man but something inside him was not built to treat this Black man with equality and killing him could have possibly been out of an inherent fear of Black people.
Racism comes in different forms and that's what I think a lot of non-Black people fail to see. It's not always as blatant as calling a Black person out of their name (i.e the N-word) but smaller acts like gripping your bag when you walk by a Black person or the more common, taking the features Africans are commonly bashed for, placing them on a white figure and turning it into a fashion trend counts too. Yes, that means you in the dreads. And you in the "Kim Kardashian" braids. But while we're on the subject of the actions of non-Black people, it's important to look at who's an ally in these situations. You can't negate anyone's struggle or put one tragedy over another but from what I've witnessed, the Orlando shooting was a popular subject in the spaces I were in that weren't largely populated by people of color. In these same spaces today, not one mention of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. The cultural divide is vividly apparent especially since there seems to be very few non-Black individuals speaking out on these injustices. Why are people more focused on the fact that these men had guns on them than the FACT THAT THEY WERE MURDERED BY POLICE OFFICERS. I don't understand it and at this point, I don't care to see their perspectives I just want it to stop.
We have to find ways to move forward. I'm over the hashtags. Our criminal justice system is clearly broken. I don't know what it's going to take to fix it but I think it starts with more officers openly admitting someone on their team was wrong for us to start seeing progress. We can't bring back the lives that were taken and I know the lives of their loved ones will never be the same but it starts with these officers serving time for their crimes.