iStock

It has not been a good week in or for America.

In a little over 72 hours, two Black men from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, have been murdered by the police, and last night, in Dallas, Texas, snipers took aim at the police during a peaceful protest over the first two killings. Five police officers were killed and several more were wounded.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

I’ve mourned privately and discussed publicly the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I’ve experienced outrage, pain, and despair. I watched both videos of Alton Sterling’s death and the second one forced me into a physical reaction. Watching a man’s last breath escape his body is something that nobody should ever have to see. Seeing it on video was harrowing and difficult. Watching Lavish Reynolds describe in great detail the events that occurred and observing her go through roughly every possible emotion a person in her situation could go through hurt. We’re all hurting over the continued preying of America on the Black community, and particularly the Black men that the police seem to believe are all criminals.

Advertisement

It has not been a good week in or for America.

Last night, as I lay in my bed asleep, my son woke me up by kicking me in the back. I looked at my phone and saw notification after notification from every news outlet about shootings in Dallas and the fact that police officers were killed. My heart dropped because I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the media would shift the entire conversation back to this mythical open season on police, who are experiencing the safest year on record for police ever. And sure enough, the non-sense sparked with news headlines that are linking what happened in Dallas to September 11th; marking it as the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11. And that correlation is patently ridiculous.

Advertisement

It has not been a good week in or for America.

What has happened in Dallas is a terrible tragedy, without equivocation. Allegedly the shooter that was killed said that he intended to kill white people, especially police officers. Taking aim at police officers does not help the problem. But I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t understand that mentality, even if I don’t agree with it. When you see and hear that your community is constantly under siege by the very people sworn to protect and are given authority to use whatever force can be deemed justifiable, necessary, or reasonable after the fact, its not hard to see how a person being fed up, or a group of militaristic individuals can just decide to go ham and exact some sort of revenge. To be clear, I’m not condoning it, but I do understand. Sometimes, extreme times cause people to go to extreme measures.

Advertisement

I will never forget that interview with Tupac Shakur explaining how poor people would eventually rise up. The gist was that if poor people see rich people throwing food around in an apartment they’d knock first and ask for food. Eventually those knocks would get more aggressive as the condition got worse, leading up to the point where in the worst of worst times, there’s no more knocking. There’s going to be furniture moving. Every oppressed class reaches a breaking point at the hands of the oppressor. And believe you me, the Black community, especially us Black males, feel a way about the police. I do not trust the police. As an individual a cop can be a good person, but as an institution, fuck the police.

Despite what mainstream publications and talking heads can’t seem to understand or more accurately, refuse to acknowledge, the relationship between the police and communities of color has always been stressed and likely always will be. There’s no trust and that comes from the police assuming that we’re all criminals. The deaths of so many young Black men for doing nothing more than living, no matter how old or young proves that. To the police, my life is a crime. I approach every interaction with the police that way.

Advertisement

Last September, after leaving a bar with some of my friends, I dropped one of my boys off at Union Station in DC so that he could catch the train home. I apparently had a tail light out and was stopped by the police. I did what I always do. Clearly stated that my hands were on the steering wheel and let him know, when asked for my identification, I was reaching for my wallet. This bastard ass cop had the nerve to think that I was over-reacting and went the extra mile to tell me that I watched too much television. My response? Maybe you don’t watch enough. He let me go with a warning and the whole time I’m thinking, thank God that didn’t end the way it absolutely could have as I've been known to have a bit of a temper with police. I've calmed down a lot, for my own good.

Nobody should feel that way about interacting with the police over a routine traffic stop. But here we go again, Black man living is a crime enough to result in death. We’re all tired and fed up. And it’s sad that these instances result in more death, especially for police officers, who despite my lack of trust, I do realize have a thankless job. I don’t believe dead cops are the answer. It's sinister and disgusting to think that it is. All we want is equal treatment. I don’t want to worry about dying because my tail light is out. But I do.

Advertisement

It has not been a good week in or for America.

We’re tired of hashtags being the lasting legacy of so many in our community. We’re tired of the majority community not acknowledging an apparent problem with the way those in authority deal with communities of color. We’re tired of our lives literally being up for grabs if a person with the authority to use a gun who shouldn’t have one in the first place, loses his cool, then being exonerated because of the extent for which the police, who investigate themselves, will go to justify a police officer’s actions.

Advertisement

I have three little children, two of which are young Black boys who will grow into Black men. I hate that while I have every hope and optimism for their lives that I know the same thing that every Black person knows: I will have to have a conversation with them about dealing with the police and it will not be one that says the police are to be trusted and that you will get the benefit of the doubt. It will be the conversation that all Black men have to have with their kids about making every encounter with police as short as possible. Only answer questions that are asked and make sure that they don’t think you are being aggressive. Curse them out once they are gone, but living is more important than being in the right.

I’m pissed that the media is making comparisons to 9/11 because to conflate what those people in Dallas did to what the terrorists who stole planes and flew them into buildings did just doesn’t compute. It’s not the same thing. They’re all criminals. But somehow making 9/11 seem like an attack on law enforcement and then paralleling the two is irresponsible and dangerous. The news media outlets need to do better. There are a lot of hurting people, some are now the families of police officers, but many of us who aren’t have been hurting for centuries at the hands of those in power. I’m not happy police officers are dead, but there tend to be very few officers showing much in the way of sympathy for the death their fellow fraternity members have caused.

Advertisement

I want peace. I want calm. But there’s a storm right now and contrary to how it will be presented to the American public, it’s one of the police’s doing. Those of us in the Black community have been complaining about policing forever, and now that we have continued camera footage that is showing the things we’ve been complaining about, it should call into question many reports and deaths. It is a public health issue that the entire country should be concerned about. The loss of any of our citizens is a loss to the nation as a whole in productivity and progress. But that’s not the story that will be presented. That’s not what many people see.

They see another Black man down and see another criminal out of the picture. A cop gets shot and he’s a hero who lost his life to the criminals. The disconnect is surreal. The fact that police want us to view individual actions as just that but then want to blame individual actions on a movement intended to get equality just speaks further to that disconnect. It feels very hopeless, like a penny with a hole in it.

Advertisement

It has not been a good week in or for America.