I’m supposed to be having a lie in this morning as my husband gets up with our son and gets ready for the school run. I have had a horrid cold for the best part of November and I’m trying to rest up as we rapidly approach the festive season.
However, I can’t stay silent on this. Last night as the UK was going to bed, the news that there would be no indictment for the police officer who performed a choke hold that killed Eric Garner. Another Black man killed by the police without consequence. It has been barely a week since a jury made the same decision in relation to Mike Brown, a young man who was shot 12 times, 12 times, and killed by a policeman in Ferguson Missouri in August this year. On the 22nd November 12 year old Tamir Rice was fatally shot in Cleveland. And let us not forget the 2013 jury’s decision on Trayvon Martin’s death.
In each of these cases, the decision was taken that there would be no consequence for the white person who took the life of a black man. No consequence at all. In the case of Eric Garner, the whole thing was recorded. A medical examiner gave a ruling of homicide. The choke hold used is deemed illegal. Still, this made no difference. So tell me, what’s it going to take?
As protests take place across the US, as anger and rage finds voice through social media, I am stunned at the lack of understanding of what these deaths truly signify. For the past week, I have had many conversations on social media with people who seem to think that if you are involved in crime, if you resist arrest, well, this is just what happens. I have given up on conversation threads where I have been explaining the significance of institutional and structural racism in these cases and I have been aggressively challenged. The ignorance present in many of these challenges has been astounding. One commentor pointed out that Mike Brown was a bully and a criminal, based on the footage of him in the store before he was killed. (I have deliberately used the Fox News edit here. Interesting to listen to how this is reported and the language used). ‘He was no angel’; another charge at Mike Brown.
“Well I suppose you think Mark Duggan was an upstanding citizen as well??” went another, referring to the fatal shooting of a UK mixed race man, which sparked riots across the country in August 2011.
What?? Are you serious?? How is this even an argument? Why is it so hard for people to understand that these men were killed NOT because of criminality but because of a pre-existing bias which led to excessive force being used? Why is so difficult to understand that, in all probability, if Trayvon, Mike, Eric, Tamir and Mark had been white, the outcomes would have been different? Why is it not concerning that the white men who took these Black lives walk away free, to resume their own lives as if nothing ever happened?
I am almost lost for words. America, you are lost. What is it going to take for positive change?
This will not change until White America stand up with African-Americans to make a stand. To say ‘no more’. I am heartened by a new Twitter campaign currently trending, in the wake of the Eric Garner verdict; #CrimingWhileWhite.
The campaign aims to shine a light on racial profiling. Check it out and look closely at the people contributing. They are overwhelmingly white. That is so important. For any real change to happen, White and Black America must stand together in solidarity.
However, it’s going to take more than a social media campaign; it’s going to take more than words from America’s 1st Black President, Barrack Obama.
Enough is enough.
#BlackLivesMatter #icantbreathe #ferguson #EricGarner #mikebrown