Where do we go from here?
It’s a question I find myself asking more and more. Another black man had his life taken away too soon. It is happening so frequently that it’s a struggle to keep up with whom we lost, when and why. Though we lost too many black people due to police brutality last year alone, George Floyd’s death felt like the breaking point. We had protesters of all colors and beliefs marching as one, declaring that these senseless killings must stop. That the unjust treatment of black people needed to end. There were calls for defunding the police and policy change. Many have expressed disappointment surrounding the fact that they actually believed that we’d reached a pivotal point in history that would finally work in our favor.
And now, here we are; a year after George Floyd’s death, there still hasn’t been any justice for his murder. In fact, instead of justice, there’s been defamation of Floyd’s character and even more senseless killings and debates. Despite video footage and eye witness statements, Derik Chauvin’s lawyer is trying to convince everyone that it wasn’t a knee on his neck that caused his death, but Floyd’s drug use. Instead of seeking justice, they seek to villainize the victim.
One of my favorite Diversity & Equity Advocates Jiquanda Nelson recently shared an email that she sent to her local Chief of Police. I became teary eyed as I read her full explanation of why her black son would be entering someone’s home to fulfill a work requirement. She described his features and gave a general idea of the movements that he would be making while asking him to please make this known to the officers that would be on duty.
There is so much to consider here. Not only are her emotions tied to this as a mother, this is time robbed from her, extra steps she has to take in order to attempt to save her son’s life simply because he is black.
How are we supposed to react?
So many of us are constantly checking up on the news in order to keep tabs on the virus, the president, and the general happenings in our country. Hearing about incident after incident of an innocent person of color being harassed, assaulted or murdered can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. Black people in particular are under a great deal of stress while trying to comprehend and work around all that is going on. We never know when we’ll hear about another unarmed black person getting killed. We never know if it’ll be our father, our brother, our child, our cousin. That fear is a heavy weight that black people often carry, but the current climate has heightened the sense of angst. We are in a cycle of trauma with no clear means of escape.
This last Sunday, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was murdered during a routine traffic stop. The shooting happened in Brooke Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles away from Derik Chauvin’s trial. Daunte Wright was a son, a brother, and a father. He was young, loved, and had his life taken from him far too soon.
Kim Potter claims to have been reaching for her taser and mistakenly pulled her firearm instead. How does a police officer that has been on the force for 26 years make an error like that? Are we supposed to just accept these nonsensical excuses and just move on? There will be a trial to determine if culpable negligence is the cause of this young man’s death. Culpable negligence implies that a person acted recklessly, which led to an injury or death of another person.
There is no doubt that Daunte Wright was shot by Kim Potter. There was footage of it happening. Rather his death was an accident or not, is a matter of opinion. Police officers are regular people so why are they held to different standards? Why are they always given the benefit of the doubt when there is clear proof of their crimes?
This situation brings to light even more questions. Is it reasonable to believe that Potter could confuse her taser and her gun? Was it reasonable for her to fire, even if she believed she had been holding a taser? These questions will certainly keep her trial going for days. I have my own opinions, but that’s not something I’m questioning the most at the moment. There is only one question that is at the front of my mind.
Will another cop get away with killing an unarmed black person? If I’m honest I’m tempted to go a step further and ask WHEN will another cop get away with killing an unarmed black person?
How are we supposed to cope?
Being black in the wrong place at the wrong time could be the reason that someone is killed. Take a moment to think about that. How have we allowed this to be a norm? How is it that it has happened so much that many are desensitized and have subconsciously began to tune it out. This is not okay. Some people look at these incidents and feel shocked or question what the black person did to have deserved the outcome. Black people do not have the privilege to be confused or inconvenienced by murder. We feel every black life that was taken. Yet, we still get dressed and go about our day and push down the fact that it lives within our throats and gut while eating away at our insides.
So much about the current times we are living in is traumatic. What on Earth can we do to make this come to an end.? More awareness and more people stepping up to fight against this hate are paramount to preventing these incidents. We are seeing and hearing about unfair death at a rate that I could have never imagined. Systemic racism is on full display and the resistance is real. Seeing a person’s last moments and hearing what their last words were is a pain that we can’t seem to escape.
Sadly, we have also been robbed of the opportunity to heal from one tragedy before another occurs.
Yet, we keep going on anyway. What other option do we have? We have to go to work. We have to continue to care for our loved ones. We live our lives and hope that we don’t end up going viral on the news as another black person having their life taken way too soon.
Why do We Have to Shout that Our Lives Matter?
When the Black Lives Matter movement began, people would often counter by saying, “all lives matter.” Obviously. Black people having to tell you that black lives matter is the problem. Being treated as though our lives hold less value is why this movement has become a thing. Countless times I’ve been told that black people need to get over slavery because that was in the past. Wanting to live in an inclusive world isn’t about slavery, though pretending like that hasn’t shaped the lives of black people in this country is ignorant and inconsiderate. We need to have uncomfortable discussions to find solutions and prevent discrimination, harassment, and death.
We get told that our anger is justified but that rioting and looting are uncalled for in the same breath. Why do we feel like the preservation of property is more valuable than the life of a Black man and his family? How are we to ever have peace where there is rarely any justice?
We keep hearing things like, “It was an accident” or “I was following procedure.” Neither of these excuses should be considered acceptable justification for why a person is no longer alive. They are not words grieving families are comforted by. We know that police are capable of detaining and arresting people peacefully as we see it happen all of the time, even for crimes as gruesome as murder. Yet, when black people are involved, they are more likely to end up in a body bag than in handcuffs.
We have many questions, but the most important question of all: When will this reality be no more?
This post is provided by Yum Yum Morale Workplace Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategies and Confessions From Your Token Black Colleague by Talisa “Tali” Lavarry