I came across the text below as an image on Instagram and I wish I knew to whom attribution could be made – except for the people named in the piece AND those who were unnamed (because sadly, the piece would be much too long to name all the Black and Brown bodies that have been killed or harassed in similar ways). I’ve said this before, but we put out statements or we issue hope and prayers, and we say things like, “hate and racism have no place in this neighborhood/school/city/country.” Maybe it’s a good thing we aren’t making a lot of statements anymore because these statements all ring hollow when we see no change in the behaviors of the people who keep killing us. What’s the point of a statement when the actions that lead to them do not change? Yes, these statements are just performative and there is no real desire (or seemingly no desire) for the real structural changes that are needed to enable Black and Brown bodies to simply LIVE! And if racism and hatred have no place in our society, why do we keep seeing it play out every day? (A rhetorical question, for sure).
And now, as if trying to live wasn’t enough, assuming the governor of Florida signs the HB-1 bill), in Florida:
- Protesting will become a felony (leading to the removal of voting rights)
- “Aggravated rioting” will also be a felony
- Protesters will be denied bail
- People who kill or do bodily harm to protesters will be immune from civil prosecution
- Pulling down or damaging confederate statutes will be a crime
- The state (FL) may override any local municipality that decreases police funding
If this is not a harbinger of things to come in other so-called “red states” I don’t know what is. And if you don’t see a problem with this legislation, I am not going to attempt to explain it here.
I, therefore, ask, again, “will we ever learn?” Will we learn to treat Black and Brown people with the respect we deserve? Will we ever be treated like the human beings that we are? Will it ever be safe for us to walk, to jog, to shop, to play, to breathe? I sure hope that day will come when we can do these things and feel safe doing them.
Today I make no call for action. I’ve done a lot of that. This is merely a reflective post as I wait to see what happens in Florida; as I wait to see what happens in Minnesota (with the Chauvin case); and sadly, as I wait to see when another Black or Brown body will be killed simply for being!
The text of the Instagram Post:
“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones).
When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).
After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor).”
(subsequently identified as David Gray)
Ted Killheffer said:
We see these cases every day. We lament. We bemoan. We wring our hands. But we do nothing. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that we really don’t care. American exceptionalism indeed! Lincoln’s better angels have disappeared.