What Makes This Any Different?
I’m an African American Male and I have frequently been the victim of police brutality. I am still alive with the only permanent damage being on my police record which I am expected to disclose on every job application. I get to tell my tale but on any given day it could happen again or perhaps something even worse. My first incident was when I was a teenage boy. The last incident was as an older man over ten years ago. I was beaten and choked to near unconsciousness and then later charged as if it was my fault. I had no weapon or drug, and did not act in a threatening manner. I relive it every time a police officer forces me to listen to him/her or asks me personal questions. It makes me angry but I dare not show it in the presence of police for fear of it being my final act.
I was in Los Angeles during the LA riots. I remember the feeling, not unlike now, the frustration of this being a world where I will never be safe, one that will never change. There are no children I had to prepare for eventual police confrontations though I have had many students who I had to help process such feelings. I know it was harder for my Grandparents and their parents and so on so I thank God for not being in those times but I am still not safe. Every time an event like this happens I defy my logic brain and gather together a little hope for change and every time I have had my heart broken.
I see the world wide response to the latest events and once again I have begun to gather a little hope beside my larger anger, outrage and fear. Another Black Man dead and the world is affected but what makes this any different? What possible reason could I have to expect a real change, to be safe? There is no safe neighborhood, no safe education level, no safe occupation. There is no protection from this threat. I live with this every day and only dare share it with a very few and even then infrequently so as not to contribute to anger and despair. Hope is only reliable in that it has always failed me in the past.
Peaceful protest is legal and supposedly protected by the constitution but when does peaceful protest actually work? Colin Kaepernick was vilified for it. When our President wanted to cross the street from the White House to a church he ordered violent action brought down upon peaceful protesters. I know violent protests, riots and the like, harm everyone but what other way works? Hasn’t human history shown us that in order for real change to happen there must be bloodshed? What makes this any different?
I had no intention to share this initially but I have been inspired by people who look like me that normally don’t speak out about such things but have chosen not to remain silent such as Neil Degrasse Tyson. Thank you for your words.