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2014 felt like the year that many Black people woke from their slumber. Somehow we’ve been lulled into a comfortable sleep, but it’s apparent that we live in a racially unequal country. But there was something about last year–whether it’s the rise of social media activism or the number of highly public cases where Black people were shot and killed by police. It all became too much. If racism doesn’t sleep, we probably shouldn’t either.
It would be almost laughable if it wasn’t downright depressing how the narrative surrounding a shooting of a Black person is always framed. Before I even looked into the details of the LAPD shooting of a homeless man, identified now as “Africa,” I already expected the narrative to go like this: A Black person encountered the police, they were not behaving appropriately” for whatever reason. He tried to give grab a gun and then the police shot and killed him.” I wasn’t wrong. The narrative is always the same. And the narrative is old, tired and ugly. Matter of fact, this is the same narrative that was used on the unarmed shooting of 19-year-old Anthony Robinson.
Watching the video of “African” was unsettling. The way in the police attacked the man who the community reports as having mental illness, is unjustified. Police personnel are supposed to have training in dealing with those who suffer from mental illness. I know because I have friends who give these trainings. Aside from this horrendous approach to dealing with any person, and especially one who has a mental illness (which has been reported as being known by those within the community), it is incredibly difficult to believe that a band of police officers together, cannot restrain any man without killing him. It is not only incredibly difficult to believe, it is an atrocity.
Of course too, I also expected the mainstream narratives that would now work to justify the killing as it always does, pointing out “wrongdoings” in a person’s history. I refuse to even go into those details because that is a deflection from the matter at hand and a way to derail the conversation. That ought not to be the legacy of a man who suffered in life and death. Given that this happened in the same week that the Justice Department released the report from the Ferguson PD, showcasing racism within the organization, it is quite telling that the police institution is not exempt from America’s racist systems. And we cannot be naive enough to believe that it is only Ferguson where this is a problem. Our eyes have seen too much from last year, if nothing else.
Now it is true that our system failed “Africa,” and Robinson long before the police killed him that day. “Africa” needed care and support from us. We, the people, are responsible. Perhaps that is too great a burden to bear for many but that is the reality; we do not get to tap in and out of society’s systems only when it benefits our narrative. “Africa” died without dignity, but society rendered him to the margins, so we let him live without dignity too.
We should have done better for “Africa” and for all who are on the margins of society. These sorts of things will keep on happening if we do not find political, social and structural means to hold the powers that be accountable. We cannot have civil servants of the law continue in this way because it is contrary to living in a civil society as well as a disgrace to the ideals of democracy.
Always remember that #BlackLivesMatter.
Hands Up, Don't Shoot: Ferguson Sparks Photo Movement
1. A Call To Action1 of 43
2.2 of 43
3.3 of 43
4.4 of 43
5.5 of 43
6. Young Black Men Support6 of 43
7. No Justice, No Peace!7 of 43
8. Hands Up8 of 43
9. Don't Shoot9 of 43
10. Beyond Color10 of 43
11. Youth Movement11 of 43
12. Don't Shoot12 of 43
13. Generational Support13 of 43
14. Activists Of Our Generation14 of 43
15. Gathering Crowds15 of 43
16. Mike Brown's Mother16 of 43
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared17 of 43
18. Anonymous?18 of 43
19. T-Shirt With A Message19 of 43
20. RIP Mike20 of 43
21. Hands Up21 of 43
22. We Are One Race22 of 43
23. Do I Fit The Description?23 of 43
24. Am I Next?24 of 43
25. A Happy Protestor25 of 43
26. We Are Praying With My Feet26 of 43
27. Masked Supporter27 of 43
28. A Stand Off28 of 43
29. The Power Of Banning Together29 of 43
30. We Want Answers30 of 43
31. Brave Supporters31 of 43
32. We Need Justice32 of 43
33. Hands Up33 of 43
34. Don't Shoot!34 of 43
35. Passive Aggressive35 of 43
36. The People Flee36 of 43
37. Hell No, We Won't Go!37 of 43
38. Solidarity38 of 43
39. Assume The Position39 of 43
40. A Sniper, Really?40 of 43
41. Never Give Up41 of 43
42. Is It A Race Thing?42 of 43
43. A Powerful Image43 of 43
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why ‘He Tried To Grab My Gun’ Is Just Not Good Enough was originally published on hellobeautiful.com