America is Struggling With Valuing the Life of its Black People

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood

by Reggie Fullwood

In the 1960s Malcolm X was considered the more militant counterpart to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But if you evaluate many of his words today, some would argue that he was far from militant – he was direct and profound. Many of his quotes ring true today as Blacks and supporters of equality and anti-hate, fight to dismantle the vestiges of systemic racism.

“We are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as human beings…In fact, we are actually fighting for rights that are even greater than civil rights, and that is human rights.” -Malcolm X

Brother Malcolm understood the Black struggle and was even more concerned with the plight of African American men in this country.
Nearly 10 years ago, Washington Post writer Michael Fletcher wrote an article titled, “At the Corner of Progress and Peril.” The column centered around one important question, “What does it mean to be a black man?” I have often asked my self that very same question. Arthur Ashe said, “Being a black man in America is like having another job.”

Ashe was talking about the additional life obstacles many blacks have had to endure since most of our ancestors were brought to this newfound land as slaves. And I am definitely joking when I say “newfound’ land, but that’s another article for another day.

According to Fletcher his series of articles would, “Explore the lives of black men through their experience – how they raise their sons, cope with wrongful imprisonment, navigate the perceived between smart and cool and defy convention again the backdrop of racial expectations.”

The most profound statement made by Fletcher was, “Being a black man in America can mean inhabiting a border area between possibility and peril.” Or as James Comer once said, “Being black in America is often like playing your home games on your opponent’s court.”

You can still win the game when you play on your opponent’s court, but you have to work much harder to win.

Black America is beyond tired of dealing with our people and youth being murder by people in positions of authority or perceived authority. I don’t know when the series of murders against unarmed black men really started. Trayvon Martin certainly may have been the first murder to really bring the issue to the forefront over the past 20 or so years. Then came Jordan Davis and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbury and of course, George Floyd just to name a few.

The reason I say I don’t know when it started is because some would argue that it has never stopped. Unarmed black men have faced this type of injustice since slavery in America.

One big difference today is the advent of technology. I often say that technology is a blessing and a curse, but in the case of Walter Scott, Arbury, Floyd and others it was clearly a blessing.

How many of us can’t live without our smart phones? Those phones and their camera and video features have become critical to the fight for equality and justice. We really have no idea what really happened in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed. We only know George Zimmerman’s side of the story because Trayvon didn’t survive the incident, but we do know that he was unarmed and that Zimmerman was the aggressor.

We may never know how many times black men have been killed and a false narrative was told that made the African American victim the bad guy. Black lives do matter, but it’s apparent that there needs to be some video evidence to prove it.

So for those who don’t understand, this article probably will not help you get there, but in the views of most of Blacks America have played out in every major city in this country and even small towns. We are “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.” It is still very sad that in 2020, we are asking and contemplating what the value of a Black man’s life.

Enough is enough – Black people are tired of listening to armed assailants like George Zimmerman and the Ferguson police officers who say that they feared for their lives so they were justified in killing our youth.

Enough is enough – Blacks are also tired of being told, “This has nothing to do with race.” Well, we are not ignorant. Race has been and will continue to be an issue in America because we refuse to have honest dialogue about our differences.

James Baldwin said, “Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is political reality.”

African Americans are tired of watching videos like the one we saw of Eric Garner being placed in a chokehold by NYPD, listening to him say “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” and then watching him die minutes later. Fast forward to 2020 and the Floyd murder has sparked a movement that is abruptly changing this country.

I applaud all of those involved, regardless of your race, color or creed – change has to happen now.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” Baldwin.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once said, “I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”

And finally, like a broken record – Black Lives Do Matter, but this phrase doesn’t mean that other races don’t. It’s a statement related to the discrimination, hate and racism that has plagued African Americans for centuries. Period.

Signing off from a march at the Duval County Courthouse,
Reggie Fullwood

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