When there’s blood in the streets (streets)
And you remain quiet, don’t you come with a speech
(When it pop) Man down (down), Gunned by police
Hood Cries, you ignore it? Don’t say nuthin’ to me
(When it pop) (When it pop)
The hood been cryin’ out (cryin’ out), but no one ever hears (yeah)
Until they turn it upside down (side down) Now everyone appears (yeah)
It’s easy for me to look at killings like Trayvon Martin’s and Michael Brown’s and say that the outcomes of the inquiries into them resembled justice. I can do that because, in both situations, there were-and remain-a lot of unknowns; a lot of unanswered questions that could lead an individual to say those killings weren’t outright murders. In those instances, I understand how and why the conclusions were made.
That said, I can’t look at the decision to not prosecute the police office that killed Eric Garner and come to the same conclusion about justice being served. It wasn’t, and there’s no denying that. Even if I grant the police the latitude necessary for them to effectively and safely do their jobs, there is no way that I get to the point of choking someone to their death as a viable method of restraint. No, it may not be murder, but it’s definitely negligence…and New York has a statute for criminally negligent homicide.
I’ll leave that the the federal lawyers to sort out.
These multiple killings-Martin’s, Brown’s, Garner’s-have led to protests and degrees of civil unrest. Rightly so, despite my disagreement with some of the tactics. What we see in Ferguson, what we saw in Florida and around the country last year, is the boiling over of decades of tension and frustration between the black community and the police departments that are supposed to keep the peace.
I notice, however, that people have a hard time acknowledging that frustration. They ask why blacks don’t get upset at the high rates of black-on-black killings, or at the disproportionate rates of black abortions, questioning why some “black lives matter” and those supposedly taken at the hands of other blacks don’t.
To those who I know who make those arguments, do me a favor: stop.
Because those arguments don’t show any concern for what’s going on. They don’t show any compassion for what happened. You can’t dictate to a people-of any color-what they should and should not be upset about. Let’s keep this real: if black police officers were killing young white men in the way Brown and Garner were killed, and if George Zimmerman was a black man, we know what the reaction would be. You do too.
And the funny thing is that the black community would support your frustration. Why? Because we know firsthand what it feels like. Been happening to us for a while.
Do you really think that blacks don’t care about blacks killing blacks, through any form of violent actions? Do you really think we’re not smart enough to recognize the problems that our community has? Do you really think we’re not capable of addressing them?
If you do, I understand. You’re safely insulated. You don’t know what’s going on; don’t see the pastors and community leaders in their streets, going door to door if necessary and pleading for the violence to stop. You don’t see the few-and true, that’s unfortunate-black men who stay in their neighborhoods, working to bring peace and betterment. And the ones you do see and hear about, you cast them as “militants”, because they make you feel uncomfortable.
And yet, when I talk about black murders, black abortions, black kids who can’t read and aren’t learning in schools…..you applaud.
My community has some real issues; I know. We’re doing the best we can to deal with them with the resources we have. Our responses aren’t perfect; sometimes they’re loud. Sometimes they’re profane. Sometimes, yes, they’re self destructive. But they’re ours, with all their positive and negative implications.
Let us have them. Allow us the time and space to get our emotions out…and then help us continue the work of improving.