As a black man with a young adult son, I have had to have “the conversation” more times than I can remember. The conversation of what black men should do when pulled over by the police, especially young African American males.
Yes, it’s real America. I know that some think that blacks are paranoid and overstate the magnitude of the issue, but police brutality against blacks is a genuine threat. A lot of jokes have been made about driving while black, but I can assure those nonbelievers that a lot of truth is told through jokes.
I watched an interview Tuesday morning on CNN with Reggie Love, former special assistant to President Obama.The commentator asked Reggie a few questions about how the President should react to the recent series of racial challenges facing the nation. But in his dialogue, Love made a very profound point.
He said that what white America needs to understand is that African Americans have been dealing with this type of racial profiling for decades in this country. Technology has allowed these incidents to be recorded and seen by millions.
Excellent point made by Love. There aren’t more unnecessary police killings of black men today in our country – more incidents are being captured by camera phones and other devices that stream footage live. That’s the difference. That’s the game changer.
So as I watched the Minnesota video, my mouth dropped open because I had never seen that type of footage captured on video. The young lady was extremely calm despite the fact that her boyfriend had been shot four times. It was unbelievable. It was so unbelievable that you have to read the transcript for yourself.
Diamond Reynolds was smart enough to tap into Facebook Live and record the incident with police that shows her boyfriend, Philando Castile, just after he was shot by police in a St. Paul suburb last Wednesday night during a traffic stop.
She said: “Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back and the police just, he’s covered. He killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed, he’s carried … he’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he was … he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm.”
Officer with gun pointed at vehicle’s interior:
“F%$# I told him not to reach for it, I told him to get his hand out.”
“You told him to get his ID sir, his driver’s license. Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.”
The video was extremely graphic, Castile was alive and can be seen squirming in the seat next to Reynolds at the start of the video. He was later declared dead at a hospital.
We also saw police ask Reynolds to get out of the car and lay on the ground. Her main concern was for her 4-year-old daughter that was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.Yes, a 4-year old child witnessed this horrific situation.
And the St. Paul police shooting was only one incident. In Baton Rouge, LA, another black man, Alton Sterling, was tackled to the ground and by two police officers and shot several times after being rendered helpless. This was another indictment captured on video.
Then we fast forward to Dallas, TX two days after the shootings, as protests and marches against police killings broke out in dozens of cities all around the country.
A peaceful march against police brutality turned into a deadly police ambush by one lone gunman that previously expressed his frustration with police killings of black men.
The gunman, Micah Johnson, used an automatic assault rifle and opened fire on the police, killing five officers and wounding seven others. Johnson’s assault was said to be a retaliatory strike related to the back-to-back, point-blank police killings of black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Regardless of Johnson’s frustrations, killing police officers or any other human is not the answer. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”
The vast majority of our police are good men and women who take their sworn duty to protect and serve very seriously. We can’t let a minority of bad police dictate how we as black people feel about the majority.
But white America also has to realize is that our angst with law enforcement is real and is justified.
The mantra “Black lives matter” is a fact and should be a reality for all. But if you look at history, from slavery and segregation to the Trayvon Martin to Jordan Davis murders to the incidents of last week, it would appear that blacks lives are cheap and irrelevant.
Relations between police and black America have always been strained, but last week’s killings in Texas, Louisiana,and Minnesota further expose one of the biggest issues we continue to sweep under the rug – race relations.
Signing off from a small protest in Jacksonville, FL