I was going to wait, research and write this for my odyssey page, but this is burning me up and I need to get this off my chest now. *ANGRY, RANT AHEAD*
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot, no, MURDERED, this week by police officers. My heart is aching, my blood is boiling and I’m shaking as I write this. I don’t understand how innocent men were killed by people that were supposed to be PROTECTING THEM.
Alton Sterling, 37 years old, black male. State of shooting: LA. He was selling CDs outside a local store (which he is known for, locals have given him the nickname ‘CD man’) when a homeless man called police because he was carrying a gun. Upon arrival, the police tackled the 37-year-old to the ground yelling and screaming and eventually shooting him in the chest and back, leading to his death.
Philando Castile, 32 years old, black male. State of shooting: MN. He was coming back from getting his hair done for his birthday when he was pulled over by a cop for a “busted tail light.” When mentioning that he had a firearm because he was LICENSED to carry, the police officer shot him. Diamond Reynolds, his girlfriend, filmed the aftermath of the shooting. She remains calm throughout the entire situation and never once disobeys the police officer. Upon seeing the body of her bloodied boyfriend she says, “please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
Now, both these shootings happened in the same week within days of each other. This year alone, there have been at least 136 black people killed by police officers. 136. Just let that settle in, we are just in the beginning of July, halfway through the year, and 136 people have been killed. Why is this happening? Racial profiling. Plain and simple, it is a form of racism that puts negative stereotypes upon people. Unfortunately, for black people, everyone tends to think they are all extremely violent, gang members that do nothing but take drugs and commit crime all day. Well, let me tell you something folks, that is complete and utter NONSENSE. That’s like me saying all white people sit around a picnic table at a barbecue eating tater tot hot dish and talk about the weather. What makes you think that black people can’t be educated? Have you seen our president? Or how about Ronald Nelson, the senior that got accepted into every single Ivy League school? What makes you think black people are unsafe and murders? What about, Ted Bundy or Charles Manson? Are they safe people to be around, just because they happen to be white? It’s wrong and unfair to judge based on a skin color, something that can’t be changed. Racism has been around for centuries and it has always been that the darker colored people would be discriminated against. When slaves were brought to the USA (AGAINST THEIR WILL), they were tortured, beaten and killed just because they were black. During the civil rights movement, blacks were ridiculed, lynched and shamed because of their skin tone. We have always had racism in this country but thanks to technology, people have been able to show the world the horrors black people face in this country. These two incidents this past week are unfortunately not the first of their kind; they are one of the thousands of black people MURDERED due to prejudice. They are two people who were taken too soon because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As Governor Dayton of Minnesota said,“Would this have happened if those passengers and the driver were white? I don’t think it would’ve.” How sad is that? How often do you hear of a police officer shooting, and killing, a white person because their tail light was out, or because they were selling CDs? That’s what I thought.
These two incidents have sparked protests all over the country, bringing Black Lives Matter back into the spotlight for the country to see. And for those of you who don’t believe in Black Lives Matter and think All Lives Matter should be used instead, here is an example of why that makes no sense and you sound stupid. Let’s say Jared’s house is on fire. They are obviously scared and worried so they ask their neighbors for help. Jared’s neighbors then come out, take a look at the burning house and start to spray down their houses instead. When Jared asks his neighbors why they aren’t helping put out the fire on his house, his neighbors respond. “Oh, this is a preventative measure, all these houses are important.” Do you understand how stupid that sounds? Our black folx in this country are Jared and their community is the burning house. When you tell them that all lives matter, you are ACTIVELY ignoring the problem and redirecting it to yourself instead. Obviously everyone’s lives are important, human life is precious. But that’s precisely why the Black Lives Matter movement exists. Because black lives are human lives too and their lives matter. And right now, their lives are being taken away just because of their race. Not fair, right? Exactly. That’s why you need to stop watering your own house that isn’t burning and do something to help the black folx that are hurting right now. They are being persecuted. It is genocide and the country is turning their back on the people that built this country. And don’t even TRY to argue with me that slaves were not the reason this country exists. Those poor people were used and treated worse than trash and they persevered. They fought back. They survived. And now all they want is justice. They want to be free from the fear of being killed simply because of their race. The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t there to say it’s okay for other people to get killed, it’s there to say, ‘hey, we black people are still getting killed at alarming rates for no reason, that’s rude and uncalled for, can we please talk about this?’ I’m not black but I still support the movement because I know that it is wrong for people to get hurt and live in constant fear because their melanin levels.
Now, here is another thing about both these shootings that really stood out to me. They both carried guns and were licensed to carry guns. Now, let’s think about this for a second, whenever some shooting happens, the tragic Orlando club shooting, for example, many Americans joined together in saying we should all carry guns, for safety. Anytime a shooting happens, the NRA makes a statement and they always try to convince the country that guns aren’t harmful and that we NEED them for SAFETY. After the shootings of Sterling and Castile, the NRA didn’t make a statement, people said they shouldn’t need guns (even though they were 100% licensed) and that if they didn’t have a gun on them, they wouldn’t have been shot and killed. So, is everyone saying that just because they were black they aren’t allowed to have guns? Or is everyone suddenly starting to become anti-gun for everyone? Don’t you think they sound a little hypocritical? Where is the common ground here, why aren’t these two men allowed to carry a gun even though they have the same license as (white) Billy from down the street? Is it because they are *gasp* racist? I’m sick and tired of all these double standards. I’m tired of people trying to “be black” but then turn their backs on the real issues of violence. I’m tired of hearing countless stories about families being torn apart, people being killed and cops just not doing their job. Wake up America, the civil rights movement never stopped. Sure, we aren’t segregated. Yes, we can vote. But POC can’t live their lives peacefully, they are in constant fear of being hurt, FOR THEIR SKIN. All I can say right now is please keep these families in your thoughts, don’t be hypocrites and please, I beg of you, be kind to one another. Do what you can to show your support. You don’t have to go out on the streets and protest if you don’t want to, but you can still voice your opinions, spread awareness and most importantly, be kind. Be tolerant and be there for each other.
I will leave you with a poem from one of my favorite poets, Rupi Kaur:
you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but I was not made with a fire in my belly
so I could be put out
I was not made with a lightness in my tongue
so I could be easy to swallow
I was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget but
not easy for the mind to follow
Stay kind, brave and safe my friends.
Till next time,