What am I doing to change the world?
The brutal deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling both occurred days after our country celebrated it’s biggest summer holiday, the 4th of July. A celebration of freedom and independence. Most of American were on vacation, enjoying family and friends, traveling to popular destinations and surfing social media.
When I saw the Alton shooting on Facebook, I was a bit upset to see another brother shot dead in the streets. The police are at it again, I thought to myself. Then I read that he had a weapon on him and was selling cd’s. Now I’m thinking maybe he was a street hustler and had be doing some dirt, which is why the police harassed him. Not that he deserved to be killed or even harassed, but that maybe he had some bad karma coming.
Point is that I found myself a bit numb to the whole thing. I felt disconnected to Alton Sterling and his family. I felt helpless and hopeless, like there was nothing that I could do to make a difference.
Because I believed that there was nothing that I could do to make a difference, I did nothing to make a difference. The only thing I did was talk about it to others and on social media.
Then when I saw the Philando Castile case and something struck a nerve. The difference was Philando was out with his lady and her daughter. I don’t believe he was into any nefarious activities at this time. Also in his case he was complying with the letter of the law and still lost his life.
I started thinking about how could this happen to anyone, not just a black man. What attitudes, beliefs, laws and social constructs need to be present for this type of thing to take place? Why is it that it only happens in this way with the police? Why is it that when the police who kill it’s almost never considered a violation worthy of Imprisonment, yet for citizens this same behavior would definitely warrant jail time? Why are the police so afraid of black people? Why hasn’t the federal government considered getting involved? Is the media playing these stories up? What the fuck is going on? And most of all what am I going to do about it?
The last question is the one that hit home the most. What am I going to do about it? “Mr. Change the world” can’t sit on the slides of the world series of systematic genocide and just enjoy the show.
So why am I not in the Game? Because I have stuff to do. I have to work, because I got bills, debts and I’m addicted to many things that cost money. Things like fancy cell phones, electronics, nice shoes, clothes, music and movies, just to name a few.
Once I get out of debt, get a little nest egg of cash in the bank and fill my house up with a lots of stuff to distract me from reality, then I might be ready to get into activism of some sort. Then I might have the leisure time required to get involved enough to make a difference.
Maybe I’ll get involved when my cousin, brother or best friend gets shot. Then I’ll be ready because I’m close to the victim. I’m sure that would raise my level of compassion to a point where I would support my brothers.
Maybe I will never do a damn thing because the truth is, I’m scared. I’m scared of the police and the government. I have never had a great experience with the law. I have had a few good experiences and plenty of horrible ones. I suffer from LEEPTSD, Law Enforcement Encounter Post Stress Traumatic Disorder. For Real!
I see the police and I experience anxiety, I get nervous and sometimes confused. I try to adjust my behavior, as to not draw attention to myself. I believe being black is strike one and being male is strike two. So it’s real easy for me to strike out and get flagged as a perp in the mind of a white officer.
My LEEPSTD keeps me from speaking out against injustice. Fearing that doing so would put me on the FBI’s watch list, therefore ruining my life forever. If I speak out, I will be persecuted, ostracized, label as an angry black man or troublemaker.
I do nothing, and I make excuses based on fear. That’s not who I want to be and that’s not who I say I am.
I am someone who wants to change the world for the better. I am someone that has the power to make a difference. I am someone that has tremendous compassion for my fellow human. I am Philando Castile and I am Alton Sterling.
I’m going to do something.