Terence Crutcher was a father, husband, son, uncle, pastor. Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by officer Betty Shelby, even though he was unarmed. What started as his car breaking down led to his body in the morgue.
Keith Lamont Scott was a father, husband, son, uncle. Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a cop as he sat in his car reading a book. Because he had fit a description of someone they were looking for. What started as him waiting on his son to get off the school bus led to his body in the morgue.
Keith was killed by a cop less than 24 hours after Terence was killed by a cop. We did not even get a chance to breathe between their deaths. We didn’t get a chance to stop the bleeding before the next stab. We didn’t stop crying for one before we started sobbing for the other.
And the bad part is that we know how it will end. We know that the thug in blue will be on paid leave and eventually walk free. We’ve seen this movie before. (Read: Stages of What Happens When There’s Injustice Against Black People)
We can’t go to the grocery store. We can’t buy cigarillos. We can’t sell CDs. We can’t walk down the street in our own neighborhood. We can’t look too threatening. We can’t ask a cop why he stopped us. We cannot breathe too loud. We can’t play music too loud. We can’t need help with our broken down cars. We can’t sit in our cars and read. We just can’t BE. and it’s frustrating. Well, there’s frustrating and there’s this. This is beyond frustrating. This is appalling. This is disgusting. This is infuriating. This? This is traumatizing. We are being lynched.
We do everything right and comply to the T, and still die. But it’s important to know that not listening to a cop is not supposed to be a crime punishable by death. Besides, cops have apprehended mass murderers who are armed ALIVE. Meanwhile, 13-year old Black boys with bb guns are shot and killed.
And it’s so bold that it doesn’t even matter if it’s no camera or not. People still go free. How many snuff films of my people do we need to see? We’ve had the videos. We’ve had footage of us being brutalized since Rodney King in 1991. Video has never brought us justice because you know what when you Black and you get killed on video, they still manage to find a reason to justify why the person who killed you was not in the wrong and at this point us watching the video is tragedy porn. (Read: About Images of Black Death and the Groundhog Day of Police Brutality).
It’s another day and another hashtag that shouldn’t be. It’s another day for us to know someone’s name, not for how they lived, but how they died. It is another day where I am reminded that to be Black in America is to have an acute countdown clock over your head.
And people are mad at Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee. It’s because Black people keep taking bullets from the thugs in blue. I’m sick of this shit. And I want to tell white people that I am fresh the fuck out of DO.
White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away. And their murderers are employees of the state. These killings are state-sanctioned.
White people, I’m talking to you. THIS. IS. YOUR. PROBLEM. TO. FIX. Y’all got some work to do, because this system that y’all keep on privileging from, you’ve got to help us dismantle it. Because those of us who are Black and Brown. We have tried. You created this robot, and it is yours to deactivate. My skinfolk don’t have the passcode. This is your monster to slay.
How? I am not sure, but below are some real ways to start.
Take some time to listen to what Black people are saying. Hear how we feel, and do not debate it. Because there is a trauma that goes from your head to your toes that cannot be explained but it is there. We carry it with us everyday. The way our heart quickens when we see a cop, even if they’re just walking by us. The way it feels when we watch our men and boys leave the house, unsure of whether they will walk through that door at the end of the day.
Amplify the voices of Black and brown people.
When you don’t have the words to speak up, give your mic to someone Black, who does. Share their Facebook status, retweet them, and tell others you know to drink up their perspective. At the minimum, you can do that. It is a statement in itself.
Talk to your family and friends.
I am a firm believer that we cannot fix anything until we change hearts and minds. And we do that by challenging those closest to us. It means that as you sit at the dinner table, and someone spews hateful things, bigoted statements and is just being racist, you speak up against it. This is not the time for you to sit in awkward silence, because you doing that is you being complicit in it. You are saying that you not only tolerate it but you might approve.
On Facebook, as those you love are being prejudiced jerks, you don’t just scroll past it, rolling your eyes. No, you say something and you challenge it. You tell them that what they’re saying is not okay. You call them out on their bullshit.
It will not be easy but these are the times when it is most necessary. Someone inboxed me to say one of their cousins unfriended them for saying “Black Lives Matter.” Yeah, that might happen. It is what it is. But sitting around as those closest to you engage in hateful conversation is you being an accomplice in their foolishness.
When they come with their “All Lives Matter” dumbassery, let em know.
Also, teach your kids that the color of somebody’s skin matters just to the point of you acknowledging their history. It shouldn’t be what determines whether they get to live or die.
Donate to anti-racism work.
Give money to those who are doing anti-racist work. Organizations like Black Youth Project 100, Dream Defenders, Assata’s Daughters. Pay attention to platforms like Color of Change and Colorlines. And donate to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Put your money where your heart is.
Know who you are voting for.
Who is on the ballot? Who are the people in place to make decisions? Why do you keep voting for the racist asshats? Why do the judges who criminalize Black boys get repeat terms? Why do the congressmen who spew hate about Black people get their seats back over and over again? Why are the governors who are saying “All Lives Matter” winning their races? Because you keep voting for racist people who are hellbent on maintaining the status quo of oppression. Not just that, they’re creating racist policies that are actively allowing the deaths of unarmed people in the hands of coward ass cops.
88% of Congress is up for election this year. Make your votes count there, as well as in local elections.
Call your representatives and congressmen when an unarmed Black person is killed in their jurisdiction. Write letters expressing your disgust. Demand accountability for the perpetrator in blue. Know what the process of the police accountability board is. YOUR VOICE MATTERS. White people are often looked at as authority, for the mere fact that they’re white. Use that power to advocate for change and for equality.
Be a witness.
When you see a Black or brown person get pulled over by a cop, you pull over too and watch the encounter from a distance. Be a witness and record what’s happening. Make note. Your very presence might de-escalate the situation, and you have a right to observe a police encounter so you will not be breaking laws by being there.
Use your bodies in this fight. Take to these streets and march and protest, showing that you are not okay with what is happening. Be on the frontlines, showing that you have a vested interest in the well-being of Black and brown people. Do not monopolize the space but be present, so that those protesting can SEE allies. So that those people in riot gear can see faces that look like theirs.
You wanna be about this life? BE ABOUT THIS LIFE.
Commit yourself to fixing this. You are not helpless.
We no longer need white allies, but white co-conspirators. Don’t just talk about really be about this life and ACT. This idea was birthed by protestors in Ferguson, and recently brought to my attention by a Facebook status I saw from Rosa Clemente.
Get to work, white folks. Because we’ve tried. God knows we’ve tried. FIX IT. I don’t know exactly how but shit. Create an app or something. Just fix this. GET. TO. WORK.
P.S. There is a chapter on racism in my book I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual. If you’re here for this post, you’ll love my book. Out now.