Monday, January 18, 2021

Talk time with T: How to be black in America

America claims to be the land of the free and home of the brave. Liberty and justice for all. But for black people, this is not our truth. How are we to be black in America?

One might say, “just act normal.” How can we act normal when Trayvon Martin went to a 7-Eleven and purchased a pack of skittles and an Arizona iced tea, and while walking home was killed by a neighborhood-watch volunteer because he said Martin looked suspicious? A normal act that anyone can do whether it is morning or night, which by the way is not an illegal act, resulted in a young black man losing his life.

How are we to be black in America when last year police killed 223 black people throughout the country? The Washington Post’s investigation page stated, “black males accounted for 22 percent of all people shot and killed in 2017, yet they are six percent of the total population.” How are we to be black in America when all the evidence points to police brutality, yet the officers are not held accountable or let off with a  mild reprimand?

How are we to be black in America? One might say, “Just don’t do anything illegal.” Even following the rules and not stepping a foot outside for the day could lead to you almost being arrested.

My older brother was playing his Xbox One and washing his clothes on a Saturday afternoon when we both heard banging on the front door. My brother answered it and found five male and one female police officer with their weapons drawn at him.

He soon found himself pinned against our apartment building’s hallway wall.

“What are you arresting me for?” my brother asked in a muffled tone, caused by his face being pressed against the wall.

“You just robbed a lady down the block, and now you’re coming with us,” the officer who was handcuffing my brother.

“I’ve been in the house all day, what are you talking about?” my brother asked. Before I could even corroborate his story, the officers were hauling him down the stairs. They took him all the way to the front of our building, when one cop gets in his car, then hops back out and says, “He’s not our guy.”

How are we to be black in America when we are guilty until proven innocent and we are not heard? Yelling, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times was not enough for the officer who had Eric Garner in a chokehold and other officers who compressed his chest while trying to handcuff him, resulting in his death. However, mass murderer Dylann Roof was granted Burger King after his arrest.

One might say, “If you don’t like it then do something about it.” We’ve protested and where has it led us? Dead, beaten, arrested or jobless. For example, Colin Kaepernick lost his job as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers for silent protesting by refusing to stand for the national anthem. How do we protest when our protests are counter-protested? Black Lives Matter has turned into blue lives matter and all lives matter. In case you haven’t noticed: All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.

This is the sad truth for black people in the United States. Racial discrimination and police brutality in this nation is only going to escalate if it is not addressed and dealt with. So once again the question is posed: How are we to be black in America? The answer is, we can’t.

Email Tamiyha Carter

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