“This is an issue that has been weighing heavily on me for some time and, I have come to conclude that we must “Stand Our Ground” on them. Similar incidents like the one cited within this piece targeting people of color, have been repeating themselves in cities all over. This one, is personal.”
On Thursday, May 14, exactly one week after graduating from college at the age of 21, a young Black man went to test drive a car that his parents were getting ready to buy for him in West Palm Beach, Florida.
He drove into a nearby cul-de-sac and was getting ready to make a U-turn, when he noticed a White male walking towards him out of his house with no shoes and no shirt on.
By the time he put the car in gear to drive away, the White male pointed his gun at this young man’s head on the driver side of the car and fired. The young man ducked while driving away — the bullet missing his head by mere inches. The young man was the son of my high school friend, but his name will not be printed in order to maintain the privacy of his family.
The son then called his father, frightened, and explained what happened to him. His father put into motion some phone calls to alert friends nearby who found his son and took him to a police station to report the incident. The police went looking for the house where the man came from, but he was not home.
Sometime later, a White male from that address showed up to the police station with his lawyer in tow. When they asked the young Black man if he could identify that man as the one that shot at him, he could not definitively answer the question, because he was too frightened while driving away to make a full identification. As a direct result, the man was not arrested.
No one was able to refute what happened; there was a bullet hole in the driver side window, and a bullet casing was found inside the car. Yet, in these United States of America, we see time and again young people of color being targeted for no apparent reason except for the color of their skin. It does not matter if you had a degree, it certainly does not matter if you are a fine, upstanding citizen; all one must be is the wrong color in the wrong place. The day after the incident happened, as police were gathering evidence and pulled camera footage from the surrounding areas, the alleged shooter took his own life. A tragic end to an awful situation. This happened to someone I knew and could have ended another way….next time it maybe someone close to you!
February 26, 2012, my own eyes began opening. The day that Trayvon Martin died. I will never forget the discord from people who said he had to have done something for that man to shoot him. And even when they found that all he had was a bag of Skittles and a drink in his hand and no weapons were found, there was a movement afoot to criminalize him. An investigation into his young 17-year-old life, revealed that he had been suspended from school and I watched in horror how people began to take sides, some even remarked that Martin was already a criminal, so he was probably guilty anyway.
George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, had a colorful past of his own, but because he was White and his parents were respected community members, he was ultimately found not guilty and they used the Stand your Ground law in Florida to help make his case.
Since that fateful day in 2012, we have watched case after case of African American males being choked to death, shot to death, killed while holding a water gun in a Walmart, accused of being criminals while they’re putting keys into the locks of their own homes, and the list goes on.
Black women are not exempt from this racism; quite the contrary. In fact, the name Sandra Bland comes to mind, more recently, Breonna Taylor, among so many others. While Black Americans become increasingly concerned about what’s going on in the country, with the targets being placed on our backs at random moments, another situation has emerged — White people who consider themselves to be liberals, consider themselves to be empathetic, have begun to show another side of themselves to their Black neighbors and community members when faced with having to make a choice between life and death, right or wrong. Even with all the evidence in front of them in black and white, they suddenly become tone deaf to what is happening all around them with either tepid responses or none at all.
It is bad enough when it is our neighbors practicing racism — it is frightening when it is the leaders who were elected to pass laws and make decisions that should protect us all do the same. They are the same people we continue to vote for at the polling booths because we are “told we should.” Those same people, who take on positions of authority, end up being a stranglehold on the very people who voted for them in hopes of a better future.
It’s time to stand our ground against leaders who are afraid to “rock the boat” because they want to remain popular to those who would give them funding for the next election cycle; leaders, who are so self-absorbed, they will hold a press conference to moan and groan about what is happening in our communities then go back to their safe spaces and do absolutely nothing. Leaders, hired to run city, county, and state departments who have such fragile egos, they forget their roles and begin spouting racist and narcissistic rants, acting out of retaliation and emboldened voices, to speak up in support of a president or party affiliation. Leaders, who put on robes to preside for 10 years, and willfully, incarcerate countless people who should have gone free or been given probation.
And lastly, leaders, who will call those who were not afraid to stand up and speak out about the injustices and tell them to be quiet because “we do not want to air dirty laundry about our community or about our people.”
As the hatred ramps up around the country, how much more are we expected to take? How many more times should we vote for people who do not have our best interests at heart? How many more times should we turn a blind eye while we continue to die?
It is way past time for the evil that lurks among us in high places to stop hiding behind their titles and do something, because we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
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