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Too Many Shots Fired

This week has held lots of grief and pain for many people around the country. The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the death of five officers show that there is a divide in this country which is beyond repair. I speak as a young black woman. I've watched as too many times my people are killed in the street like animals. Governor Dayton said himself that had Philando Castile been white, he would still be alive. There are so many things fundamentally wrong with that statement. The color of a person's skin should have no bearing on whether they live or die. But all too often it does.

I listened to a professor on the radio last night. He said things I've never heard before. He said that among the white race of people there is a culture that teaches them from the cradle to the grave that blacks are inherently bad, criminal, violent, angry, lazy, and so on. While whites are inherently good, honest, peaceful, hardworking, and so on. The color of a person's skin has no bearing on their character. If a person is continually beaten, abused, and generally mistreated does it not stand to reason that at some point they will get fed up. The professor said that the latest killings of these two black men is not a black issue, but rather an issue of white racism. It stems from this belief ingrained in whites about blacks. A white friend of mine said this is true. She said that she was taught about this growing up. I'm shocked and yet not, that for whatever reason white people have bought into something so stupid as to classify people simply on the color of their skin.

I read somewhere that the shooter is being classified as someone with psychological issues. Frankly, I don't agree with that sentiment. Micah Johnson was understandably angry. Sterling and Castile are not the first black men to be killed by white police officers without cause. They are merely the newest numbers in a long list of black people who have been killed and whose killers have gotten off completely free. Johnson brought unimaginable grief to five families. But we must look at how all these events are connected. If Sterling and Castile had not been unjustly killed by white police officers, Johnson would not have felt it his duty to be judge, jury, and executioner. Furthermore, if white police officers were held accountable for their actions (prison time) you would not see violence from black people. The reason for the violence is that time and time again blacks are shown that our lives are not as valuable as our white counterparts.

James Holmes and Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. are just two local examples of white men who committed a crime, yet were taken into custody ALIVE and UNHARMED! Officers would have been justified to shoot Holmes who had just killed numerous people and injured many more. But he was brought in without any harm being done to him. Dear killed a police officer and two civilians. Also he injured others, yet he too was brought in unharmed.

The white officers shot Thursday evening were rushed to hospitals as though their lives were more precious than Sterling and Castile. The issue I have regarding the care taken with the white police officers is that the same care was not given to Sterling and Castile. There was no attempt to render aid in either officer involved shooting this week. Had aid been rendered maybe these two men, or at least one of them would not be among the number of black people killed by police unjustly. Maybe the country would not be as embroiled as it is at this moment.

For generations the color of one's skin has determined how well one is treated. When the color of anyone's skin is allowed to define the value of their worth something is wrong. I do not allow the color of my skin to tell me what I'm worth. To me it is merely pigmentation. To others who do not look like me, the color of my skin is a barrier of what they think I am able to accomplish. Some white people will think I'm a criminal, lazy, violent, angry. To those people who believe the character of a person can be determined with one glance I pity you. I am a daughter, friend, student, employee, someday wife, mother, attorney, grandmother. Those attributes are not because of the color of my skin, but rather because I'm human. I'm funny, short, caring, hard-working, goofy, talkative, serious, goal-oriented, and determined. I'm those things because that's who I am. That's not because of the color of my skin.

STOP SHOOTING ME, every time one of my people dies unjustly and unnecessarily I die a little bit. Too many shots have been fired, too much blood has been spilled, too many lives cut short. The circle of violence has a starting point. If we want it to end we have to have equal justice for everyone.

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