As I saw the tweet come across my timeline my first response was “oh, the cops shot somebody else”. I am sure most of you have heard the unfortunate story of Michael Brown. An 18-year-old, unarmed African American male who was killed by the police. As I read the interesting circumstances behind his death I honestly didn’t bat an eyelash. I mean we had Eric Garner just last month, Diallo, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell… hell, I can keep going. Police brutality is nothing new, hell I remember the Rodney King incident back in 1992, I was 10 years old…lol yeah, I’m that old. At the time of the incident, I didn’t quite grasp the significance. All that I knew was that some dude got beat up by the cops, it was videotaped, the cops were found innocent and black people rioted. As a 10 year old that was my view of police brutality. Of course, there was also stories of police brutality in rap lyrics but if it wasn’t on the radio I wasn’t allowed to listen to it. My parents wouldn’t allow it and I wasn’t bold enough to risk getting into trouble. As I got older I began to hear more about it and I still didn’t quite grasp the significance or severity of the situation.
All of that changed in June of 1994. My father, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and I rode to New York for my cousin’s graduation from high school. For starters, I do not have any idea how all of us fit into that Chevy blazer for that 10-hour drive smh. despite that we made it. On the way back from New York on the New Jersey turnpike, my father was pulled over for speeding. He gave his information to the officer’s and they asked him to step out of the vehicle. As I am sitting in the car watching this other car’s pull up and all of a sudden my father get’s hit by one of the officer’s. The other officer begins to hit, kick, use the billy club, etc and basically beat my father’s ass. Two more officers walk to the vehicle and order us to get out of the car. Unfortunately as a 12-year-old my emotions got the best of me and I tried to run towards my dad and the officer pulls his gun out on me and orders me to go back to the car. My father is bloodied and bruised, eye swollen shut and they take him to the police station. To make a long story short, he is eventually released and sometime later we went to court and won the case and if I’m not mistaken a settlement was paid. This was one of the more confusing moments of my life. My father who worked for the government, church going man, rarely cursed, hard working, no record, and an overall upstanding citizen just got beat up by the police for no reason. I was still confused and all I could hear from some relatives was “they racist”.
Now I wasn’t new to that phrase. I grew up in the south, we dealt with racism frequently. The way we handled it was simple, we ignored it. This was different…we were up north, you know one of the free states and these were state troopers. they are just like the D.A.R.E. officers that used to come to my school, surely they wouldn’t do anything like this. What confused me, even more, is that my Dad wasn’t that type of guy, he was a God fearing, law abiding citizen, he didn’t fit the profile. That was all I used to hear growing up, don’t draw attention to yourself, no loud music, be twice as good, use manners. If you do all of this you should be good. It’s funny how life works. I was so confused and I really, really wanted to ask my father what now? Were all of his teachings wrong? What now? Of course, I didn’t really discuss it with him, too afraid and I thought I would get into trouble.
From that point on I came to terms what it meant to be a black male and while I adhered to the same rules and lessons that my father taught me, I no longer viewed them the same. Instead of viewing them as way’s to conduct myself and what I am supposed to do I considered them as just survival tips. Yeah, survival tips that MAY help me survive. So over the years as more instances of police brutality and murders of other black males happened I became numb to it. It’s like oh, another black person got killed by cops, that’s unfortunate. This is part of what being a black man in America is. You are going to catch it from all angles and you can’t react. You can rarely be yourself, you have to bite your tongue, take the abuse and hope that you make it.
What really intrigued me was the response to the murder of Michael Brown. Just in the social networking realm. I saw so many tweets and IG posts about it. Some people were shocked and surprised. Of course, we had a few jokes, there were some people blaming the victim, trying to justify what the cops did and let’s not forget some of the tweets turned into a battle of the sexes. you know black men don’t support black women, vice versa, etc. etc. Oh yes and the go to “fake-caring” comments. As I read the tweets I didn’t really judge or take sides. Mainly because well like I mentioned earlier I am numb to it and to be honest I don’t know what to do. I can’t judge any of you. You feel how you feel and you react how you react. I’m not in the business of telling adults what to do or how to feel.
As the weekend continued, of course, people began to riot. Part of me feels as if it was pointless and a part of me is like well hell, not rioting hasn’t exactly helped either. As I continued to school I noticed a lot of similar tweets. “Why don’t blacks have this outrage when we are killing each other or blacks been killing blacks too”. Lol. Yes, I literally laughed when reading this shit. First of all, thank you for stating the obvious. Secondly, what does that have to do with anything? Seriously? I do not condone violence and yes blacks kill blacks but damn, these are police. Trained professionals who are paid to protect and serve. Trained to make the right decisions in chaotic situations. Able to not let any personal beliefs, prejudices, whatever is going on in their personal life, anything get in the way of doing their job. Personally, I hold, well technically we should hold cops to a higher standard. They aren’t “regular untrained citizens”, they aren’t the “niggas killing other niggas” hell they aren’t even George Zimmerman. They are the police. Hell even when I was an armed security officer we went through extensive training.
Feels as if I am beating a dead horse. We all know why that young man got shot and it wasn’t because the officers weren’t trained. My bad I was getting frustrated writing that last part. So, what do we do? Sign petitions? Protest and risk being harmed or arrested? Call my congressman? Hell, I don’t know. At this stage, I will continue to do what I am doing. “Act” as nonthreatening in certain situations and pray nothing happens to me. I will also teach my son the same things. This is the world we live in and I don’t want to leave the U.S. so I have to deal with it. Maybe one-day things will change in my son’s lifetime… maybe.
Another thing, we have to stop blaming the victim. “He looked suspicious”, Why did he run” etc. etc. Still no excuse, it’s like a tweet I saw yesterday. It’s the equivalent of blaming a rape victim for being raped because she was dressed slutty or acted too friendly. As I continue to write and think on this subject I get a headache. I will end this by sending my condolences to Michael Brown’s family and I pray that something positive comes from this situation. I also pray that so many of you keep hope and do not become a cynic… like I have become when it comes to these types of situations.
I was recently pulled over last year by the police one night. It was me and 2 coworkers who were in the car sleep. Of course, I turn my music down, roll down my windows and put my hands on the steering wheel. I was asked for my license and registration. I explained calmly what was going on and the officer took my paperwork and went to his vehicle. While sitting there I saw 3 other cop cars pull up. My boys are in the car losing it and I’m just sitting there calmly. Not because I wasn’t afraid something would happen that because at this stage there wasn’t anything I could do but try to remain as calm as possible, make no sudden movements and follow all instructions. The cop came back to the vehicle and was asked to submit to a breathalyzer. I told him yes sir and submitted to it. I remember him commenting on how calm I was. To make that long story short I didn’t even register on the breathalyzer and I was let go.
I told this boring story because as I re-read this post I felt that it was irresponsible of me not to say or make it seem as if all cops are racist and bad people. I thought the 4 cars was overkill but hell I don’t know the protocol. Hell, I’m not even going to say don’t deal with the police because the majority aren’t like the one’s we see on the news. However, I feel as if I should use the same stereotypes that they use on us.
Lol, so much irony in that statement. Like my late grandfather used to say “these are praying times man”. It’s so unfortunate that we aren’t really safe out here. In the words of the late Michael Jackson on The Wiz (lol IKR) “You can’t win You can’t break even And you can’t get out of the game People keep sayin’ Things are gonna change But they look just like You’re stayin’ the same…” Rest in paradise young man, gone too soon.