I know you’re mad and rightfully so. If black folks don’t have nothing else it’s faith & hope. We can see the same fucked up thing our whole entire lives and still believe that if it isn’t right somebody (god? humanity? spirit?) is gonna eventually make it right. There might be more of us that believe in karma than there are practitioners of the Indian religions that the concept comes from. But somewhere, rattling around in the back there, behind whatever it is you tell yourself to get out of the house in the morning, behind whatever you use to convince yourself that it’ll be ok tomorrow, you knew this was going to happen. Because behind that “if I be a well-spoken, educated member of society” was that time you got pulled over in a rental and harassed by that cop. You remember watching your whole life scrolling in front of you and the first thing you did when you got home was call your mama and tell her you loved her. Because behind those “the battle is not ours but the lord’s” is 400 years of slavery ain’t nobody write a holy book about or deliver us from and 150 years of the aftermath that folks keep trying to convince you ain’t actually happening. Because behind that “black power movement” are loopholes structured to strip you of your voting rights, promote the legal enslavement of black people via the criminal justice system/school to prison pipeline and disempower any black person crazy enough to rely on the government for change. And you’re still mourning over how they convinced us that the Civil Rights Era was over through BS, legislation and, ultimately, violence. Whatever your thing is there is always this other thing reminding you that your thing, that you, can’t quite do enough.
You see how they move & you’ve been seeing it the entire time you’ve been here & if you disagree show me your receipts! Call out the names of the black people who got the justice you so desperately were seeking yesterday. Tell me their stories as an explanation of why you believed in the system for even one minute. Speak the names of those who have passed on, bring your ancestors into this space and let them tell us that we stood for them and triumphed.
Call on Emmett Till whose murderers were acquitted but then admitted to killing him later. Call on Arthur McDuffie whose murderers fractured his skull after he surrendered and were subsequently acquitted after two officers present testified that they had pulled off his bike helmet & beat him to death. Call on Amadou Diallo who was shot 19 times for pulling his wallet from his jacket who’s murderers were not only acquitted but who kept their jobs as NYPD officers. Call on Sean Bell who was shot on the morning of his wedding by 5 officers, only 3 of whom were charged, all acquitted. Call on Aiyana Jones, a 7-year-old shot in a police raid of her home on video and whose murderer made it to court two years later in a case that was declared a mistrial last month. Call on Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. 68, who was tasered and then shot and killed in his home by police officers who responded to his own falsely triggered medical alert device and have since been acquitted of all charges. The family states that he stated that he did not want to open the door because he believed the police would kill him. Call on Tamon Robinson who was struck and killed by a police car in front of his Brooklyn home & then blamed by officers claiming he had run into their vehicle, fell backwards & struck his head. His family was later charged for damages to the police car and there has been no grand jury hearing over a year later. Call on Rekia Boyd, murdered as the “collateral damage” of a shot meant for an innocent black man, whose murderer has yet to be brought up on criminal charges. Call on Kimani Gray, shot 11 times and killed in March by officers claiming self defense even after an eyewitness reported seeing them continue to pump bullets into his body as he lay bleeding facedown on the pavement outside of a friend’s home. Call on Trayvon Martin.
Call on the 313 black people killed by law enforcement last year and ask how many of them were guilty.
Listen to their stories and tell me something important. What do we do now that we know that it’s not getting better it’s just getting called something different. What do we do when we’ve waited for whatever change we were waiting for & it doesn’t happen? What do we do now that it’s clear that our collective indignant rage isn’t changing it?