How quickly things change.
On July 7th, 2016, national sympathies lied with black people. We allowed to speak our truth with the proof laid out for all to see. We have only been granted this freedom to be “fully human” in the nation’s eye a few times thoughout American history, so this was special. Our humanity was let out to breathe and was on full display.
Then on the evening of July 7th, our humanity was again quickly stowed away, hidden from light. The suspicious shooting of 11 Dallas police officers stole our voice.
By the morning of June 8th, The media had returned to its regular tropes about black “danger” and “anger”. This time, media also suggested that our end goal was “to kill white people.” These words, released by police were claimed to be words quoted from the alleged gunman (or gunmen). These words were used give life to long held white fear and paint protesters as enemies of the state and by extension, dangers to white safety.
Confusing stories were rushed to air. First, several gunmen, then one. Headlines linked Black Lives Matter to terrorism and blamed Obama for racial tension. These stories alike in their increasingly ominous tones, suggesting”it is dangerous to see black people as human..to let them see themselves as human…to let them speak.”
THEN ONE “LONE GUNMAN”
NO REMAINS, NO EVIDENCE
White outrage turned toward blackness. We were blamed for disupting their peace with our cries for justice. We were blamed for their bloodshed and the tears of white families. With the Dallas shootings, the nation’s horror at the murder of Philandro Castile, was replaced with a tacid “that’s the way things are” and additional “perhaps it’s the way things have to be” dismissal.
So we find ourselves again, with innocent black hands were deemed red and our deaths thought a sensible means to maintain order. In essence, we are back to our normal American caste, vulnerable to plunder, murder and mockery.
Again black “leaders” are used to diminish our humanity.
Apologist rush to ease the fears of the nation, assuring our docility.
But why are we apologizing?
We have seen the spin from media before. It has always been the response to black cries of injustice. What is our rationale for subjugating our humanity? Do we not have a right to demand that our rights as human beings are protected? Do we not have a right to pursue happpiness, freedom and justice? Are they not reasonable expectations of any human being?
Is this not a just and honorable fight?
On the evening of July 7th, people of several different races were peacefully assembled around the country to show solidarity, to heal, to talk and to love each other. The Dallas protest was described by attendees as “the most peaceful protest (they) had ever attended”.
The acts of the gunmen (or gunman) are not our sin. We didn’t cause the racial tension. We didn’t shoot the guns. We know this. America knows this. America also knows her history with us. We know people want us to shut up but, we also know what we are saying is important. So why are we validating myths with apologies? Why are we allowing faulty accusations to move us off message? Why are we accepting responsibility for this?
We have paid our dues in this country. We deserve our freedom. We deserve our humanity. These cannot continue to be negotiable terms of our citizenship.
The events over the past few weeks have been terrifying. We were ill prepared for the onslaught of emotions that we felt seeing black men, killed seemingly for sport on camera. We watched the contortions of their bodies straining to breathe, fighting to hold on to life with horror and sadness.
Alton Sterling was shot in his chest while two officers held down his arms. Philando Castile in St. Paul, MN was shot multiple times as he was following the officer’s orders. We have been faced with the reality of just how vulnerable the lives of black people are to theft. Since the shootings in Dallas, we have also realized how vulnerable we are to demonizing narratives.
This is not our fault. Stop acting like it. Stop allowing others to make you feel like it is.
Stop this madness. Either have integrity and speak up for the rights of black people or sit down and be quiet. It is righteous and accurate to proclaim that Black lives matter as much as police lives do.