Thursday, August 20, 2015

Clashing Through Time and Place

I, like many others in my city, woke up to what looks like a car zone.

Tear gas, rubber bullets, sound bombs, lighting to conflict with cell device camera, armored tanks, and row upon row of armored personnel.

It was not in Iraq or Afganisthan.

It was on the west side of St. Louis.

An area forgotten by the city fathers who segregated in the poorest of the poor black people. A place where time, opportunity, and escape completely forgot, a place where even a high school diploma would not result in the police killing an 18-year-old black  man.

Yesterday, on the same anniversary of the Kajeme Powell, a memorial vigil was set for 11am with an action at 12 noon. I did not attend. It was set at the St. Louis Justice Center to demand that the Circuit Attorney bring charges against the police.

At the same time, a young black man was killed by the police who said he was running from a drug house that was being served a warrant and the young man waved a gun at the police.

I wasn't there, I don't know.

What I do know is that also on yesterday in St. Charles County, two young white men were assaulting police and each managed to be arrested without bodily damage or death.

Why the disparate treatment?

I think that has been the cry and the question of the Black Lives Matter Movement for the entire year since Mike Brown, Jr. was murdered. It was the same cry on the anniversary weekend earlier this month that also found the police in Ferguson killing another unarmed black man.

What is it about the black body that so frightens white establishment.

To be sure and true, there are more young black men in college than in prison. Morehouse College welcomed over 750, the largest freshman class ever. Claflin University had their largest freshman class. There are young black men and women entering college at HBCUs and PWIs all across this country. There are younger students who are enjoying their first week of the new school year, full of the hope and promise an education is supposed to afford them.

To be sure, also, black parents want the same thing for their children as other groups. There are mothers and fathers who are walking or driving their children to school, waiting at the bus stop, and picking them up after school to ensure homework is completed and a good night rest ends their day.

The media will send a different story. It has for years. The narrative that has built careers has always been about the pathology of black people, the wantonness of black women, the danger of black men, the ignorance of black children. These images are not the true story, but what they keep feeding to incite fear in white America and to continuously give reason for the police to be present in black spaces.

Like tell me why they had armored security for a movie? Black people are not the ones who shot up the movie theatres.

Yesterday was a stark reminder that while I may have entered this world the same year as the Civil Rights Act being signed, my grandson entered the word the same year as the more black men have been killed and more black children are in segregatred schools than in 1968.

The city erupted, it wasn't Watts in the Riots or Oakland or Compton or Harlem. It was St. Louis, and innocent people were harmed. Why?

What do we make of these things? What do we say?

To my young brothers and sisters, I tell them to not give into the system that only wants to steal, kill, and destroy, that they are greater than any despair they think. They can achieve, they are somebody, they are greater. I hope they hear me.

To my white friends, I ask them to check their privilege and challenge their thinking, to not expect black people to always be available to educate them, for them to do the work and realize their part of being good people is that their tinge of fear is why the police show up at black movies.

This must change, not sure if it will happen in my lifetime. We are not a democracy, we are not a peaceful nation, not as long as the few exploit the many an use issues of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic status as wedges to divide.

We must be better.

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