It happened again.
And, my heart is extremely heavy this morning.
Looking back, I can recall the senseless 2012 murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. I was a recent college graduate and I remember weeping for this young king who I knew absolutely nothing about. The world was held captive by the story of his ill-fated trip to the local corner store and the infamous altercation that led to the death of one of our very own. Since then, the African-American community has never viewed black hoodies, bags of Skittles or Arizona teas in the same light…
It was then that the #BlackLivesMatter movement was born.
Eventually, this led to a time of revolt. A time of allowing our voices to be heard. Thousands of protests erupted throughout the country as younger generations urged the notion of ‘No Justice, No Peace’, yet (in a matter of months) another innocent life was taken. And another. And another. And another…
I’m not one who encourages the use of violence or any means of force. But, over the past few years, countless young Black men and women have consecutively lost their lives to police brutality and justice is never in the equation. Acquittals are frequent, suspension without pay is another alternative but never is there ever any kind of substantial punishment. For centuries, African-Americans have been stereotyped, labeled and racially profiled for the mere color of their skin. I’ve even witnessed my own friends fall victim to the “We’re going to have to search your car..” and “Can you please step out of the vehicle?” for something as simple as a traffic violation.
Endless questions are flowing in and out of my mind but the one that shakes me to the core is: When will it end?
I’m convinced that, we as a people, need to straighten up within ourselves – meaning ending black-on-black crime. We’re viewed as the race who “exterminates themselves”. Black men can longer fight their brothers. This day and age calls for change, empowerment and solidarity. Now, I’m not talking about using a hashtag to remember the latest police brutality victim nor am I suggesting other means of social media influence. It’s time that we step out from behind our cell phones, I-Pads and laptops! Our voices are the most powerful tool. Let’s not forget – there was a time where Blacks couldn’t express their political views or opinions. The nation literally had its feet at our necks and we were plagued with the spirit of fear, doubt and social degradation. But, all that’s changed.
Just as the Civil Rights movement shook the United States, we need to rise up and start our own crusade. We need to let the world know what atrocities lie within the borders of the so-called “Melting Pot”. Yes, we welcome any and everybody to flock to our country but the inequalities and shortcomings that are etched within our nation’s foundation are clearly causing more harm than good. In the words of philanthropist Jesse Williams, ‘There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us… Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.’
Were the murders of Eric Garner, Kimani Grey, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Timothy Stansbury, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jonathan Ferrell, Marlon Brown, Tamir Rice, Dorian Hunt, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDdonald, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland and Philando Castile all in vain?
Never forget their names. And, never forget the struggle.
When will it end?