"…so how you feel? Frustrated, irritated, sometimes I don't know myself I be too numb, to feel something sometimes…" ~ Khujo Goodie of Goodie Mob, "Thought Process" Soul Food (1995)
As the news of Eric Garners murderer - and I use that term with all of the weight it carries considering that the medical examiner stated the death of Eric Garner was a homicide - not being indicted came down I kept thinking of that picture of Devonte Hart and Portland Officer Brett Barnum. But the smile that it once garnered is gone. Now it feels like contrived propaganda. Admittedly, that's my own fault. I chose to view the feel good story of it all - a cop who took the time to talk to a distraught youth and give a shit. It was a glimmer of hope that maybe all cops aren't bad people. In fact, I know all cops aren't bad people. I know some police officers who aren't bad people. They have a thankless job, especially when they're doing their jobs the right way.
And yet, today, that picture means nothing to me. One cop hugging a kid now feels like a photo op. The cynic in me now thinks that deep down inside, that cop knew SOMEBODY would take a picture. I'm sure Officer Barnum is a great guy. He probably goes to his kids games and makes birdhouses with his sons. And his sons are always thankful when he returns home safe and sound. But one decent guy does not an institution make. Police as a whole owe me a hug.
Where is my fucking hug?
Until cops across America are hugging Black people like they know our mother's names, fuck them all. Fuck the institution. It needs reform. It needs a healing. Body cameras are great in theory. They really do protect both the police and citizens. But the fact is, we already HAVE shit on tape that gets disregarded. Wholesale. Think about this. In 1991, we watched four cops whip Rodney King's ass. And they were still all acquitted. It was until the Feds stepped in that any of them got jail time. Eric Garner's DEATH is on camera and a grand jury felt there wasn't enough evidence despite the cop using a banned procuedure, the medical examiner ruling it a homicide, AND we have it on tape. What even happens here? Do the cops just write it off as an accidental death?
Almost every week now it feels like we get another story about another person killed by a cop who didn't deserve it. Bill Cosby might be raping everybody out here, but the police are trying to kill the rest. If we're committing crimes, then put us in jail. We have a booming prison industrial complex anyway. For years that was easy. But now it seems like police have gone the extra mile to reduce the prison population by playing judge and jury over the lives of individuals, especially those in communities of color. Officer Wilson's testimony clearly depicts a man scared for his life despite being the only one with the immediate capability to end one. He exercised that ability and doesn't seem to care. And it begs the question that's been asked a million times: how do you police the people you're most afraid of? You're the one with the gun and you're scared of me? Where dey do dat at? This is America though. This is how it happens.
America, I want my hug.
I've always found it intersting that police of any color couldn't understand why there was such distrust in the communities they policed the hardest and that people who weren't police couldn't understand it either. It's not because people want to hate the police. On the contrary, I'm sure most of us would LOVE to trust the police and the system as a whole. It's just another one of those things that confuses Black people about white people.
Black people wanted things to change over night and white people were resistant as fuck to change. Well, Black folks have been slowly gaining traction towards equality (a change been comin' and all) and white people want to pretend like it all changed overnight.
The criminal justice system has screwed over so many Black people that its going to take eons for anybody to ever truly trust that we have a fair shot. And when it comes to protecting the police, well, we know how that one goes. It's so confusing how much police feel like if communities would just hold themselves accountable then the problems wouldn't persist, yet the police don't hold themselves accountable. And they use the system to justify it. Why would I trust a cop, a judge, or anybody put in a position of power who has made it clear through the very precedents they use to maintain the status quo to be fair and just when their own ass was on the line? I'm not sure I ever will. And for that, I want my hug.
I didn't create the distrust between Black people and the criminal justice system. My only crime was learning how to read. Unfortunatley, learning how devastating life was for Black people from the beginning of this republic planted the seeds of mistrust; the seeds were watered by reality. White people win sporting contests and burn down their own property and it barely cracks the national radar. A frustrated people erupt into an outward display of emotion behind a system that constantly kicks them in the teeth and we're all crazy opportunists trying to come up on a television. Naw, we're trying to come up on justice and the only thing people seem to respond to is that television I'm stealing that will hopefully televise the revolution I'm participating in. Priveleged people look at their screens and all they see are people devolving into chaos. What I see is a people born into chaos who have had enough. Nobody wants to be compelled to loot and riot.
But fuck it, you get those televisions back when we get our hugs.
I know America doesn't care. America keeps telling me it doesn't and I keep hoping it does. But I know the truth. I thought I was Malcolm X. It turns out that I am Hazel E.
We've seen it on camera. We've seen it in the courts. We've seen it in the commentary. We've seen it in the reporting. We want it to be different. But it's not. We keep saying we have a long way to go but sometimes I wonder if the only people going there are the ones most burdened by the system and shit, I'm not sure we even believe we'll ever get there.
So how do I feel, America?
Frustrated. Irritated. Sometimes I don't know myself, I be too numb to feel something, sometimes.
I want my hug, Officer Barnum.
Where the fuck is my hug?