We’ve come too far to not fight back now. Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, voting rights, etc. have all led us to this point and a lot of progress has been made. Some of you are probably saying, “I’m really tired of hearing about slavery, and Jim Crow and I’d really like to move on”. Guess what, so do we. The problem is in our implicit bias. Implicit bias is the bias in judgment and/or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes (e.g., implicit attitudes and implicit stereotypes) that often operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control. The problem will only be corrected when each person finally decides to be honest about how they really feel and how they approach and judge black people. When you are ready to be honest about that, we are right here willing to participate in the discussion. We want to put this discussion behind us and actually move forward as equals too.
We’ve heard it before, “I feared for my life!”, said the cop that just shot an innocent man/woman/child. Truthfully, it’s probably true that they are fearful for their lives. But check yourself, is it justified for them to be scared enough to put the other person’s life on the line? Was there a weapon present? Was there a physical threat in place? Was the person acting against orders? Was there evidence of mental instability where there is the potential for someone to be harmed? I’m not an expert and I am not claiming to be one, but I believe that common sense shows in most instances, there was not enough evidence to justify the police officer in question taking lethal action.
To this day, I am still puzzled how a regular, “average joe” (George Zimmerman) could shoot a teen walking down the street for not breaking a single law, and walk away with no ramifications. George Zimmerman wasn’t even a cop, he did not operate under the code of the police and didn’t receive the protections that are afforded to the police force. Yet and still, he walks as a free “average joe” man, after killing an innocent boy. He said he feared for his life, but why? Was the teen waving a gun around? Was he threatening to kill him? Was the teen peeping through windows or suspiciously running away from something? We all know the answer is no, but catch this, because he perceived a threat, therefore he is justified in shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. There wasn’t an actual threat present while the boy was walking down the street. Had George Zimmerman left him alone, he would’ve made it safely home to enjoy the skittles he had purchased at the gas station. Instead, we remember him for being killed for wearing a hoodie and walking down the street.
Now and forevermore, black boys and men will be hyper aware of wearing hoodies, because they know they will be perceived as a threat for wearing an item of clothing, rather than judged by their character. While, a white male will never have to fear wearing the wrong item of clothing at the wrong time or fear being in a dangerous situation because they appeared threatening to someone without actually posing a threat. Sounds like liberty and justice for all, doesn’t it?
If you can justify how George Zimmerman looked at a teenage boy and judged him to be a threat, based solely on what he was wearing and how he looked, then you are part of the problem. Black men deserve to be judged based on their character, not what they were wearing, not how you perceive them, not where they were walking, and not based on their skin color. One gentleman I met shared his experience of the police with me :
My experience with the police, growing up as an African American male, was both positive and negative. The positive aspects were from the men and women who lived in my neighborhood or were in my family and were police officers. I saw their passion for their community and for the people that they served and wanted to protect. On the other hand, I saw the negative of the racial profiling that I was part of on more than one occasion. I witnessed the aggressive behavior by police officers when they would pull over a car with 3 African American males in it. They would accuse us of being people who we weren’t. I witnessed the tragedy of watching police officers abuse their power and their authority to get done what they wanted to get done. But then, I saw police officers in my family and local church who cared about people. I made one judgement about all police officers and that judgement was that not all are bad, but there are some who no matter what I do or say, feel I am guilty. Then there are others who care about serving their community and take their oath serious.
My friend is not alone in his experience. It sounds just like countless others. But, some men, women and children have become so accustomed to the police abusing their power that they are now in a state of rage. The hurt and the pain repeats itself and they feel powerless, and the powerlessness turns into rage. We are sick and tired of the same sad song. Just sitting and waiting for when it’s going to be our father, our brother, our nephew or even ourselves. No one is talking about the problem, and the problem is implicit bias. Get familiar with your implicit bias and you can be part of the solution. Start listening attentively to those affected, and be ready to address your own issues with race, because we all have them.
Next Monday, I plan to focus on arrests and the justice system with The TRUTH HURTS: Modern “Legal” Lynchings. If you have been arrested, know someone who has been arrested, been in court for a crime or know of someone else’s experience with being arrested and going to court, please SHARE your experiences with me. I am looking for specific events that have happened, not general stories or feelings about it. Please be as specific as possible. Email or send a short video or voice recording to firstname.lastname@example.org. As I said before I will not expose your name or location. I need your help in getting people to start talking about these injustices and how we can come together.