If Black, Shoot Them
It’s going to happen again, fam. Another innocent Black person will be murdered by the police. We bear the scars of a nation that has proven itself to be the antithesis of justice and has given us no reason to believe it will change anytime soon. Handcuffed by a system and a government that refuses to do anything that will alter the outcome of innocent Black lives being taken by so-called law enforcement, I write. By choice, yes, but in large part by necessity.
We’ve heard it all before:
Do what the cops tell you and you won’t get hurt. Lie #1.
Keep your hands where they can see them. That’s a lie, too. Just ask Charles Kinsey.
Don’t make any sudden movements. FOH. Even when we’re still, we’ve been shot.
Entonces…what’s the right thing for cops to do?
“Fuck the right thing. If black, shoot them.” These were the exact words recently from an assistant police chief in Kentucky while discussing a training scenario with a recruit.
This sounds all-too-familiar.
You pick up your phone and scroll through your timeline, only to notice that another Black person has been shot by the police. The shooting happened on the other side of the country but it hits home as if it transpired in your backyard. You shake your head and take a deep breath, wondering what happened and why these murders continue to occur.
The next few days focus on the young, Black man’s past. In a shameful and simplistic attempt to sully his image, some choose to comment on the type of clothes he wore as well as his taste in music. There is no mention of the policeman’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that he acquired while serving in the military, yet was still allowed to wear the badge and the blue. Nothing about the shooter’s quick-tempered outbursts witnessed by many nor his complaint-ridden, racially-coded texts about the Black community he was assigned to serve and protect.
The police chief releases a statement proclaiming that his officers were only doing what they were trained to do and that they feared for their lives. Requests to release the dash cam footage are deflected by the police department’s public relations team, insisting that they will deliver the video evidence as soon as the investigation is complete.
Protesters gather at the heart of the city in which the murder occurred, remembering the life of the fallen for who he really was – a kind, loving father. A devoted husband. They are upset. A press conference is called to demand justice. His two children are still numb – unable to fully grasp what happened and innocently unaware of the pain that will ensue in the upcoming days; months; years. Tears flow. Prayers ascend. Hope flees. Outrage crescendos. Reality taps you on the shoulder. You don’t want to turn around and acknowledge her because you know that touch…that cold, dubious, one finger pat.
Social media erupts with opinions concerning the events of that catastrophic evening. “What about Black-on-Black violence?” they ask. “What about police-on-Black violence?” you ask. An abundance of insensitive posts (including some from your friends) about the murder makes you question their allegiance to justice as well as their intellectual capacity to distinguish truth from emotion; from prejudice; from hatred. Is that a revealing of their inward vehemence toward contradistinctive concerns? And is that how they candidly feel about you?
Meanwhile, a family is deciding on a suit to complement their loved one’s beautiful, dark skin. Contrary to the media’s portrayal of him, he wasn’t a flashy guy. He wouldn’t want anything too meretricious. Then there’s the casket. His 8-year-old daughter likes the bronze-colored one. So it is.
The trial is set for June. May comes and goes. The defendant’s lawyers argue that fear and uncertainty are what triggered their client’s response. A triggered response. A. Triggered. Response. Those infamous words “according to the police,” which people of my hue seldom take as truth, are presented to the jury and they take the bait. The cop is acquitted. The young Black man’s death was justified, they said. Justified. Just if I’d been there in his place. You wanted to remain optimistic but history told you otherwise. You remember reality tapping on your shoulder attempting to garner your attention. You have no choice but to face her now.
In the proceeding days, police reform is discussed by elected officials but not implemented. Community relations between the police and residents of Black neighborhoods are summarized by inutile dance-offs and meaningless games of H-O-R-S-E and P-I-G. In reality, they have their orders: if Black, shoot them.
Life goes on.
You pick up your phone and scroll through your timeline, only to notice that another Black person has been shot by the police. The shooting happened on the other side of the country but it hits home as if it transpired in your backyard. You shake your head and take a deep breath…