We’ve been here before and we’re extremely tired.
Over the course of the last month, NewsOne was forced to revisit our gallery that lists the shooting deaths of Black men killed during police encounters, to add the names of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while also documenting the two-year anniversary of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
The men in this gallery died in predominantly Black cities across the nation like Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Staten Island, and Ferguson, hundreds of miles apart. But the aftermath surrounding their legacies fulfills a similar narrative.
We rally and march in their honor. Fight and advocate on TV and social media for the need to validate Black lives. Legislators and pundits debate taking action or waiting for more information. Administrative leaves are placed on the officers involved and in some cases, indictments reign down.
It’s too early to tell if the officers involved in Sterling and Castile’s shootings will be brought to justice, but in most cases of the men listed here, the officers were allowed to walk.
Sterling and Garner’s families wait for the conclusion of DOJ Civil Rights Division investigations, while Castile’s family and friends recently called for the DOJ to step in. In Brown’s case, a grand jury declined to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson, but an investigation by the DOJ uncovered years of racially biased enforcement against Ferguson’s Black citizens.
Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for Black Americans. A suffocation from repeatedly watching death unfold in living color.
A stark reality remains that no one has a clear set of solutions: Do we blame Black America and tirelessly dismantle the theory behind Black on Black violence? Should we start with our broken education system? Do we re-examine our legislatures and the laws? What about blaming the media and a lack of diverse, positive representation? Do we call on celebrities to speak out? Do we dismantle the police and advocate for community policing?
Nicholas Kristoff offers an important caveat in his most recent New York Times article titled, “A History of White Delusion”:
“A starting point is for us whites to wake from our ongoing mass delusions, to recognize that in practice black lives have not mattered as much as white lives, and that this is an affront to values that we all profess to believe in.”
A 2016 report by the Pew Research Center on the state of race relations shows a lengthy gap between Whites and Blacks; 88 percent of Blacks said the country has far to go before Whites and Blacks will be viewed as equal, while 53 percent of Whites agree. Forty three percent of Blacks doubt needed changes will occur, while only 11 percent of Whites feel skeptical.
In a separate study, the Center examined the imperative divide that exists when it comes to attitudes towards the police within America. According to a 2015 report, 71 percent of Whites said Blacks and Whites are treated equally, while 36 percent of Blacks agree. As police shootings become a difficult standard to accept, this number reflects that the majority of the country is off tone with what is really happening in Black America.
One of the most important things that will turn the tide are non-Black allies who aren’t afraid to discuss and reject and dismantle White privilege. They must also not fear saying “Black Lives Matter,” with an understanding that an invisible “only” doesn’t exist.
The denial and silence, along with institutional policies along state and federal levels, keep us mired down, unable to accomplish the change we desperately need.
“Fatigued” is not a strong enough verb to describe our sentiment. The word “enough,” hasn’t ended the senseless murders.
The men in the below gallery were fathers, like Sterling, Brown, and Castile. They were brothers and sons. Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin were children. Others, like Akai Gurley, were killed for walking down a stairwell, or like Jonathan Ferrell, shot because they asked for help.
The nation cannot withstand one more Black life taken this way. Not one more.
SOURCE: The New York Times, Pew Research Center