My nights have been restless. Mind wandering, tears falling, tightness in the chest, and fear has infiltrated my sleeping patterns, resulting in me becoming part of the walking dead during the day.
All of this came suddenly after I saw video of 37-year-old Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, La., being gunned down by a police officer. In the video, Sterling can be seen standing still, until a police officer tackles him. In a new video that has emerged, which is by far the most graphic thing that I’ve seen on social media, the Sterling is being subdued by two officers, while his hands are at his sides. Next thing we know, one of the officers pushes a gun into Sterling’s chest, and shoots him.
The night Sterling was killed, I couldn’t sleep. My husband, who towers over me with dark skin, a beautiful smile, and a boisterous laugh that rolls hard like thunder, was my only concern. All day at work, I held my breath and clenched my teeth, worried that he would get stopped by a rogue police officer who is scared to death of a black man – my black man – whose best compliment from everyone who has ever met him was, “He’s a cupcake.”
With the help of a sleep aid, I finally got some rest. I felt my anxiety pass through my clenched teeth with every exhale, as I touched his soft skin next to mine. I just wanted to feel his presence, to make sure he was still with me. That’s all I cared about.
Only, my night grew restless again the next day when I learned that another black man, Philando Castille of St. Paul, Minn., was shot by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. Castille was shot while reaching for his identification, which was located in his wallet that was in his back pocket, and his girlfriend live recorded the horrible incident on Facebook.
The fact that this could have easily been my husband scares the living crap out of me. I would never want to be a widow in this manner, and no other queens should have their kings taken from them this way either. But it’s happening right before our eyes.
What’s even scarier to me are the people who see these injustices, and make excuses for the cops who killed first and asked questions later, especially on social media. Lately, social media racists have been coming out in droves to protect the characters of three cops who were clearly wrong for killing two black men. Their comments range from, “Why was he resisting arrest,” to “He should have kept his hands on the steering wheel.” It’s ridiculous logic to take up for someone who is clearly wrong, if you ask me.
But what enrages me more are the white tears masked in an ‘I’m not racist” or “#AllLivesMatter” tweet. It’s infuriating.
To which I have this to say:
After the events that happened these last few days, I truly believe that people who say #AllLivesMatter or “I’m not a racist/What about reverse racism,” say it to create sympathy for themselves. There’s no logical excuse for you to even use those words after two men who was someone’s father, brother, son, cousin, and friend was gunned down by the people who are employed to protect us, especially when those words are followed by apathy and inaction.
Saying #AllLivesMatter or professing your color blindness is no different than saying, “Oh well, maybe you should have been born white.”
If the people who said these words sincerely cared about all lives, then they would find ways to support people who lost their lives to gun violence at the hands of overzealous police officers. They would put a few dollars toward scholarship funds for children of victims, so that they wouldn’t have an excuse to say that their children turned out to be “thugs” like their fathers, as they’ve claimed from these two men over the past few days. They would encourage their elected officials to create community outreach efforts to keep disenfranchised youths off of the streets. At the minimum, they would agree that white privilege exists, and they would vote accordingly.
But they’re doing none of these things, except making excuses for three cops overdoing their calls to duty, and it’s bullshit. Plain and simple.
Like Jesse Williams said at the 2016 BET Awards: