To People Everywhere:
It’s 2016. But yet I feel like I’m some 20 – 30 years behind all this. And I don’t know about you. But it makes angry. Sad. And scared.
Dallas is the latest in a LONG string of highly visible, painful and public tragedies over the last several weeks, months, and even years. And, while the city has aimed to shift the narrative on the police through the measures they have taken, there’s no denying the violence has been extensive around the U.S. From the very recent happenings in St. Paul, Minnesota to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; from Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina to the mass club shooting Orlando, Florida; from Eric Garner in New York, New York to Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland; and from the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina to Laquan McDonald right here in Chicago, Illinois. And of course, Sanford, Florida and the tragedy of Travyon Martin. Stories, upon painful stories which all serve as examples of pain, hate and aggression in this country. Done through shootings, choke outs, in places of worship, in nightclubs… Reinforcing that these things can happen any time and place… Just a moment in time and a hate so overwhelming that it inspires rage, and leads to life lost.
Make no mistake: a majority of the cities outlined above have directly involved the loss of many Black men, prompting the protests and the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter hash tag. And, there’s no doubt that I myself, as a self identified Black Latina woman fear for the Black men in my own life, both civilians and those I know and love in law enforcement and serving this country. I worry about them and their safety each and every single day. And, even thinking about my own experiences, in which I have been in situation or two that has given me pause and made me worry for my own safety, all of which made the recent speech by Jesse Williams on BET so damn powerful for me.
However, if this is where it stopped, it would be clear as day. But, over the last few weeks, it’s also been quite real that this issue of violence has a couple of other layers. While there’s a very real issue here with the violence against Black men in the U.S., there’s also a VERY real issue that this pain is escalating outside of our very own American walls.
In November, 2015, in Paris, France the attacks were many. More than 100 killed in gunfire and blasts. This past April in Brussels, more than 30 people killed at the airport. Then you have what’s going on in Baghdad, the death toll rising to nearly 300… And these are just examples. A drop in the bucket of many, many, many.
While we can argue that this has always happened, and it’s technology and digital that makes seeing it and accessing this information much more relevant, I think what’s JUST as true is that something is WRONG. And that people everywhere are VERY angry. And that this is symptomatic of the problem with VIOLENCE. People are using this violence as an outlet to express their displeasure, discontent and dissatisfaction for all they cannot control. Upset at the world. But as opposed to channeling that energy into good, taking that anger and start a cycle against what you CAN control and harm. After all, it’s easier to attack targets than to get at the source of the problem, it seems.
This is also apparent in a lot of the commentary and responses I read today in response to all this. There are those who STILL find a way to deny what’s happening out there. As opposed to being open and acknowledging that there are REAL problems out there, they rationalize. RATIONALIZE this. How, I ask myself, is that POSSIBLE?
No matter how you put it, there’s a real violence problem out there. Every few years we’re plagued with moments of pain and violence reminding us that the world has not healed and people still hold hate in their hearts. And if NOTHING else, that’s what we as people should agree on. That the violence is REAL and we should all feel some pain in times like these. Especially in 2016.
You know, it was in the late 1960s when Obie Benson of the Four Tops witnessed violence against anti-war protesters. And, it was that experience that gave birth to the classic “What’s Going On,” famously performed by music icon Marvin Gaye. Couldn’t think of a more perfect song for this time, really.
So, right now, I write this to ask that people keep an open mind and open heart. And give a damn. Please. Don’t slam, don’t hate and don’t rationalize. An Open Mind and an Open Heart would be an amazing start.
A Citizen… Trying to figure it out