Last week was very tough for many people especially for people of color. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were added to the rapidly growing list of black men killed at the hands of police officers. A few days after both men were killed five police officers were murdered in retaliation for their deaths. It’s so hard to believe that incidents like these are actually happening in 2016.
Sometimes I can’t bear to watch the news because it seems like there is always something tragic going on in the world. I was at work when I heard the news about Philando Castile. I was scrolling through social media and came across the video clip of his death. I watched the video at least three times and each time I got angrier. I was upset because the police officer who shot him didn’t seem to have any remorse for the dying man and I was disgusted by the way the officers treated the girlfriend of the victim. The officers rudely asked Diamond Reynolds to get on the ground and never once asked her if she was okay or apologized for murdering her boyfriend in front of her. In my opinion they were treated like animals.
The murder of innocent people is becoming so normal in our society that people are becoming desensitized to it. One of the most ignorant comments that I’ve read from people who are not black is that if the victim would have just obeyed the officer they would still be alive. It also irks me when media outlets dig up criminal records of the victims to help justify their death.
We are supposed to be able to trust our judicial system but instead we have to live in fear. I don’t know about anybody else but I’m not excited about this upcoming presidential election. I haven’t been keeping up with the election coverage like I should because none of the candidates give me much hope about improving our country. With everything that is going on in the world today I find myself often in a state of despair. Prayer and meditation helps but it still doesn’t make the hopelessness go away.
Like most people I vent my thoughts on social media and I attend rallies to support change but when the smoke clears I return back to my regular life. After every tragic incident we rally and march but I’m not seeing any change come about. I recently read two great articles on ways that people can continue to advocate for change in their communities. One article was from XoNecole and the other one was from Blavity. Some of suggestions from the articles included joining local advocacy groups, writing local representatives about issues you want to see addressed, or even boycotting certain businesses. I definitely want to do more to help bring about change in the best way that I can.
I believe that everyone was created with a specific gift that they can use to help better society in some type of way. My gift is writing and through my words I hope that I can help someone in a positive way. Even with this post although it may seem small compared to what other people are doing I hope it can encourage or uplift someone who is experiencing similar thoughts.
Moving Beyond The Hashtag
Three years ago I wrote a blog post called “Will We Still Remember Trayvon” in response to the murder of a 17 year old African American teenager named Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed by a police officer. During the past three years I lost count of the victims that have been killed under similar circumstances following Trayvon’s death. Last week videos surfaced online of two young black men being shot and killed by police officers in separate incidents.
One of the recent victims was a 37 year old black man named Alton Sterling. The video showed him being tackled to the ground and pinned down by 2 white police officers and then later shot over 5 times. I watched the video several times and each time I am unable to see where Sterling’s actions warranted him being shot to death. The other victim was a 32 year old black man named Philando Castile. Castile was shot by a police officer after being asked to show his identification. When Philando reached for his ID the officer shot and killed him.
I feel like we are on the verge of a modern day Civil War. Racial tension is extremely high right now and some have already retaliated with the murders of the 5 officers that were killed a few days ago in Dallas in response to the deaths of Sterling and Castile. Rallies and protests are taking place across the US because black people as well as other ethnicities are fed up with black lives being undervalued. Personally I do feel that all lives matter and I have sympathy for the officers who were slain because I know all officers are not corrupt and many put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect people of all backgrounds and ethnicities without hesitation. I also know a lot of black officers personally that are fighting a double battle; being black and being an officer of the law. I’ve also heard the continuous argument that black people kill each other every day at an alarming rate and no one rallies or protests until a black life is taken by someone of another race.
I understand these sentiments but as a black woman I can clearly see that even today black life is not valued or viewed the same compared to some other races. Equality for all is still something yet to be achieved in our country. I’m at a point now where I’m tired of hashtags and social media rants especially if there is no action taken beyond those platforms. Every time a death occurs there is outrage and protests, another name added behind a hashtag and after a few months the momentum wears off and we are back at square one until it happens again. It’s easy to feel hopeless because a lot of us want to help but we’re unsure of what exactly can be done or where to start. I’m ready to do my part and I’m ready to see a change. As a black woman not slighting any other race I want to do my part to replenish and strengthen the black community and I’m willing to collaborate with others to strategize ways to make that possible. I’m ready to work towards changing the stereotypes and perceptions of how many black people are viewed by others and even how we view each other.
If you would like to contribute to the Go Fund Me Campaign for Alton Sterling’s family click here. The money raised will go towards a scholarship for Alton’s children.