Thought-provoking Thursday|The Crime of Being Black

I was talking to my husband last night after we heard the news about the recent police shooting. We were discussing how hard it is to be a black person in the states right now; we thought it was hard to be brown. Living in Arizona all of his life, my husband has had more than his fair share of racial profiling. In fact, I had never felt self-conscious of my skin color or ethnicity based on association until I moved to Arizona.

I don’t know what it feels like to walk out of my house and fear for my life because of the color of my skin. That might sound dramatic but I don’t think it’s that far from reality. If I place myself in the shoes of a black male, I would fear for my life should I encounter a police officer because current interactions are resulting in death at an alarming rate. In most instances, no crime was even committed nor behavior warranted the course of action taken by officers. Yet the victims are automatically villanized, scrutinized, and their humanity is minimized. People want to argue that if “they” just did as the police command, if “they” just listened, if “they” just didn’t put themselves in that situation in the first place…

I honestly can’t see how anyone can justify this recent shooting. The video footage shows a man with his hands up, not being irrational, not being aggressive, not charging at officers, just walking with his hands up and he’s shot. From what I understand, his car stalled and yet somehow that situation lead to his death. Now details are emerging suggesting that he may have had contraband in his vehicle. Even if that’s the case, based on the video footage of a man following officer’s commands and four officers surrounding him with guns drawn did that justify him being killed? Could they possibly have known that at the time and is that the penalty?

As a mixed race female in my early 30’s, never in my wildest nightmares could I imagine that scenario leading to four officers showing up with guns pointed at me. I’d expect them to show up, assess the situation, and help me figure out how to move my vehicle so it’s no longer obstructing traffic. How that didn’t happen for Terence I’m not sure. I watched the helicopter footage of the incident and I was floored when I heard the commentary. Somehow someone that was flying above in a helicopter saw a large black male following police commands and stated: “it’s time for a taser I think” as well as “that looks like a bad dude too; looks like he could be on something”. That alone gave me so much insight into the perspective of those involved when situations end the way this one did.

I’m sure thousands of people are stopped by officers all over the country every day and they are able to go on about their day. What’s disturbing is the rate at which black males aren’t always able to. Personally not only is this scenario disturbing but what also bothers me is the people that are so adamant that there isn’t a problem. The people that can’t understand why peaceful protests are formed, or why people have to use hashtags with shock value to bring awareness to this issue, the ones that are outraged when a football player doesn’t stand for the national anthem but not equally as enraged when a father of four doesn’t make it home for dinner because he was killed, or that a man is shot in front of his girlfriend and her daughter for following officer’s commands and pulling out his wallet, or shot but luckily not killed when trying to keep a patient safe that isn’t able to understand a situation.

You see, I thought we had it bad being brown in a community where it was automatically assumed you were poor, didn’t speak English, you were uneducated, you cooked, cleaned, did landscape or construction for a living, and you had at least four kids. Now I realize that’s a luxury, at least those assumptions don’t put my life at risk. At least I was able to open my mouth and disprove them with the lack of accent they expected. At least I didn’t have to fear for my life or that of my husband’s every time he left for work.

I know this is a place I generally don’t take my writing or topics on my blog but I can’t sit back and observe the madness going around and not say anything. For those that still think racism doesn’t exist today, that’s because you aren’t on the receiving end of it. The more things change, the more they stay the same. On a personal level, I’m shocked to see how many of my so-called friends really feel. I’ve sat back over the past year and been astounded by what’s been revealed by people I thought I knew. They’ve shared, liked, commented, and promoted disgusting, disgraceful, and downright bigoted pieces online. I’ve cried reading hate filled comments made by strangers from the comfort of their online safety distance. Words so foul, vile, and hateful that I wish my eyes could unsee and my mind didn’t know existed. Things people have said aimed at children of color; things that should never be said or wished upon any living being much less an innocent child.

So yes, today I’m taking my writing there because Thursdays are about thought-provoking topics. Most of the time they are posts that empower, but this topic was created as a way to bring awareness. As much as I’d rather keep my beautiful positive blog away from negativity and controversy, as much as I’d like to sit back and wish this all away, I just couldn’t do it. My eyes can’t unsee the video I watched of a man that didn’t get to go home to his family on his drive home from community college. My heart won’t stop aching for a woman I don’t know but feel nothing but sorrow for the twin brother she lost. As a mother, wife, and human being I can’t pretend that I don’t see the injustice that’s occurring to families much like my own.

I can’t help but think there needs to be better training. How can people be violent, irrational, and uncontrollable during police interactions and still be alive to tell about it while others aren’t even committing a crime or being uncooperative and don’t make it through the police encounter? There needs to be accountability. This isn’t the first police shooting that has been recorded. This isn’t the first black man to be killed by someone holding a badge. Yet somehow the officers are able to stand behind their blue wall of brotherhood and wait out the media attention to move on with their lives. They’re investigated by internal organizations that find them free of fault and rarely even charged with a crime. I have the utmost respect for law enforcement with that being said, I also have the utmost respect for human life. I watched the press conference and it was stated that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I’m sure many in the black community wish the same were true for them, that they didn’t have to prove their innocence to a higher degree than someone in the same situation with a lighter skin pigmentation.

I know people are going to try to excuse, justify, and turn this around. There will always be people that say “race isn’t a factor” but the reality is it’s a huge factor. People are constantly making judgments based on a myriad of factors and appearance including skin color is among them. In regular situations, the consequences of those judgements might not have repercussions as severe as the ones officers do. They are faced with decisions that could result in life and death daily, including their own. Injustice occurs when their actions aren’t in line with the scenario and aren’t held accountable for it. If I were a black man in America right now, I could only hope to be a famous one because that would be a slim assurance that whatever split decision or judgement made would be in my favor.

My deepest condolences to the family of Terence Crutcher and all of those taken away too soon by officers that forgot that protect and serve applies to all.

34 Replies to “Thought-provoking Thursday|The Crime of Being Black”

  1. it is entirely about race, and really has nothing to do with training. It is abhorrent and we have to somehow change it. I think the way to do that is to hold each officer accountable for manslaughter each and every time they shoot someone of color. We HAVE to make this stop!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Jenny. I was nervous about posting on this but I figured that never stopped me before. My mantra for situations like this is “the message is more important than my temporary discomfort.” ❤

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I have an uncle that is a police officer, and he would never do that, in all his career he’s never had to shoot his gun at anyone. This country is just getting scarier every day, I don’t go places in case I’m in a place where an attack of anyone or a terrorist attack my occur, I’m not afraid cause I know where I’m going when I die.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank goodness your uncle has never had to do so. I can only imagine there are thousands of officers in that same situation. Whenever I see an officer pulling someone over, I always pray for their safety (usually because of videos I’ve seen of them being hit while on the side of the road). This situation has to change and I can’t understand how it continues to happen at such high rates with the media attention it gets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well said! There was NO EXCUSE for deadly force. The man was turned away, hands up. For whatever reason they felt the need to taze him and it should have ended there. You don’t taze someone, which removes the threat (if there really was a perceived threat), and then shoot after the threat has been removed. Point blank…he was laying on the ground worth bolts of electricity running through his body when he was shot. There was no need and NO JUSTIFICATION for use of deadly force at that point. Period. Amen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read a comment online by a former military member saying he couldn’t understand for the life of him how these situations continue to happen. He stated that even in Iraq they are trained to deescalate a situation of an active threat in a war zone with a series of steps the last of which is deadly force…I wish people would let that sink in.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely…any police officer will tell you that they are trained to match force with force. Which means…if an assailant is coming at you with no weapons, just fists, then you match that with your night stick or pepper spray or tazer. Deadly force is used if the assailant has a weapon that can be deemed as deadly (knife or gun). This is what police are taught in the academy so I don’t know why they are going straight for the trigger for no apparent reason. Yes, being a police officer is stressful and dangerous. But that’s what you sign up for as a police officer. To risk your life to protect others. If you can’t handle the stress or your unable to protect and value ALL LIVES regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, then what are you even doing! And what is going on during the hiring process that they are not screening these racist, hot headed, trigger happy people a little better!? It’s getting worst instead of better. Implement more diversity training and self defense training until these guys get it right! Remove the bad apples and hold them accountable for their poor actions! #PoliceReform is an absolute necessity at this point!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think accountability is key! If officers know they can’t get away with killing people without just cause, they’ll be less likely to utilize deadly force that’s not justified. I don’t know what it’s going to take but accountability seems like the first step…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Exactly. And until there is accountability it won’t change. If you or me shoots somebody we have to be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was self defense and if it was unjustifiable, we go to jail. So why do police officers get a slap on the wrist, get to keep there jobs, get paid leave with no explanation. Girl we can go on forever about this! 😉 Bottom line, wrong is wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Racism is despicable. And police officers shooting their own citizens is a crime endorsed by anyone who doesn’t think there is, indeed, “a problem”. Thank you for being indignant and sharing it. It shows that there are a lot of people who are against such horrible injustice and want it to end.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Nikki. The world is a scarey place when all that matters is the colour of your skin. I always the colour of the skin is just biology.. melanin … underneath all are the same. And to take it further we are all souls.. god is our father.. therefore we are one family brothers and sisters… because selfishness..the my mentality, i am better than you we arent united this why hell is what we live in now. Because when humans are human , in harmony, see each others as souls and family then heaven is a place on earth.

    I end its just biology to protect the skin from the sun.. we are all the same underneath …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, we are all the same underneath. If people could look to connect to the hearts and souls of others the world would be a better place. Hate and separation can’t survive the environment created from love, acceptance, kindness and unity ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I quake on the inside reading this post and seeing the news. I have an 11-year old grandson and he is very tall for his age. My heart cringes for him and all people of color. There’s no reasoning for those full of hatred and wickedness. I pray daily for our people and our children in particular. My heart also aches for Terrence’s family. It was devastating. God deliver us all, please!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s despicable and unacceptable. No one should have to fear for the life of their son, grandson, father, husband, etc. especially on these grounds alone. America needs to take a long hard look in the mirror… May there be a timely solution to this before anyone else becomes famous in death and their life is reduced to a hash tag 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What pigmentally-favored people too often forget is that what is excused for one “group” could be for others.

    If the absolute inhumanity and injustice of these shootings isn’t enough to provoke a powerful sense of ‘something is desperately wrong here”, maybe that realization could help

    There IS a code that states unequivocally when shooting by officers is acceptable, and it isn’t when a person OF ANY COLOR has his hands on his head, is surrounded, and is doing as directed! More, even if it was deemed necessary to shoot, there was no reason that they couldn’t have shot to disable rather than exterminate..because that’s what this amounts to – an extermination.

    It doesn’t matter if his car was full of contraband. There is a process to be followed. Arrest, arraignment, trial by a jury of his peers. Murdering a non-violent person is not acceptable. A badge isn’t a licence to kill a suspect who clearly isn’t threatening you.

    As humans, we need to speak out against this, and see the value in all our people, whatever skin color they come wrapped in. In America, diversity is our strength. We need all of us. We need people to stop being killed for color. We need talk of stop-and-frisk to end. We need those who break the law to be held accountable, even when they wear a badge.

    And we need to talk about this. Because that’s the way to get the message out – and it needs to be out..

    I’m glad you wrote this, Niki. May I please reblog it?

    Liked by 1 person

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