Some days the rage inside of me boils over to the point where I want to scream. Other times, I just want to crawl into a ball and weep.
The anger and frustration at the mistreatment — often brutal treatment — of Black Americans since this country’s beginning and continuing through today is overwhelming and unbearable at times. That’s if you really think about it — and I do. I’ve always thought about it. I’m just wired that way. I’ve always placed myself in my ancestors’ place, marveling at their survival and triumph over their enslavement, poverty and struggle. I smile when I think about how we’ve not only persevered but we’ve managed to find joy in life despite all attempts to squash the humanity in us. I’m filled with pride when I see how much we continue to accomplish when obstacles are stacked against us.
While I praise and marvel at our collective strength and resilience, I am deeply saddened that everything we do is in spite of this adversity or that obstacle — especially when you realize how long we’ve been fighting this fight and how much we’ve endured.
The other day I wanted to scream. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, drove from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a military-style, semiautomatic rifle and a plan. Rittenhouse shot and killed two people. Rittenhouse then walks past police officers while people tell the cops he just shot people. They don’t stop him. He drove home and turned himself in the next day. His lawyer says he’s a law-abiding patriot and it was self-defense. Conservatives are actually defending this boy and spewing the same rhetoric. So, now it’s legal for 17-year-olds to carry guns? If that’s the case, I never want to hear another word about 17-year-old Black boys carrying guns and shooting people. I’m sure many young Black males convicted of shooting someone will say they acted in self-defense as well.
Oh, the hypocrisy!
I remember when another 17-year-old was armed with Skittles. Trayvon Martin lost his life because someone decided he didn’t have a right to defend it — with his fists, by the way. Although Trayvon was an unarmed teen, he was portrayed as some sort of super powered villain able to beat up a grown man with a single punch. Trayvon’s murder was justified because his murderer said he acted in self-defense.
Juxtapose the treatment of Rittenhouse by police with how they treated Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back while the officer held his shirt. Blake’s shooting was justified, they say, because he had a knife on the floorboard of the car. A knife on the floorboard of the car means it wasn’t on Blake’s person. Rittenhouse walked right past police with an AR-15. Yet it’s Blake who was shot seven times and now paralyzed.
Oh, but Blake was tased twice, had a warrant and resisted, say those who justify the police shooting.
Well, let me tell you about a video of an incident between a white man and a white police officer at a local Kroger I recently watched. The tussle began in an aisle of the grocery store. They eventually fell to the floor and continued wrestling while the cop yelled “stop resisting” multiple times. He then tased the man about four times. Eventually, the man was able to actually grab the officer’s Taser. “He has my Taser,” the officer says at least two times. Civilians — some Black — came to the officer’s defense to help him subdue the white man, who was no spring chicken. That man did a lot of resisting — almost four minutes worth of it captured on video. You know what I didn’t see? The officer shoot the man with his gun. I didn’t see him kneel on his neck or back. Resisting is always the reason given for using excessive force against Black people, but this white man resisted for at least 3 minutes and 44 seconds. By this standard he should’ve been shot.
When will we own up to the hypocrisy?