This morning I woke up to some tragic news. An unarmed 18 year old teen was shot and killed by a police officer in Missouri. This news has created some discussion among some of the men here in the prison. Some of the conversations surround the response of the community members. Some of the members in that community rioted, looted and even shot at the Chief of police.
I am old enough to remember the Rodney King case and how the South Central LA community responded to the acquittal of those officers. They resulted to looting and violence. As the old adage goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, I agree with that. Yet, there is something deeper happening here. Something I have not yet heard mentioned by those that have appeared on TV to give their advice/opinions of what went, or is going, wrong.
As a people we are what we are taught. Black people living in the inner-cites don’t feel part of a social structure where they view justice and equality the same as those that have their place in main-stream society. In the black community exists a very different type of law and order. A very different type of infrastructure, where the values and norms are not shared by those outside of their communities.
There is a teaching in these communities that in order to be heard “we” must rise up against “any” and “all” with the force/threat and use of violence.
How can one expect anything other than rioting and looting in a community that is most likely stricken by poverty and under/low class living? Where most of the community feels marginalized and ousted by members of other communities. Was anything else expected from them?
The most important question to ask is did it work? Did it get the attention of the authorities? Unfortunately, it was the rioting and looting that got the national attention this event deserved on its own. This is the training that I speak about. That in order to be heard, to get justice “we” have to act up.
Go a step further. This has made news alongside the broken peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. As well as the slaughter of Kurds in Iraq by ISIS. That has been the rotation of news all day. My heart breaks when I see the slaughter of innocent people, wherever they may be. But what is the message of showing this type of news, the killing of a young black teen, in between the killing of innocent Kurds, Palestinians and Israelis. Does it say that “blacks” in this country when they feel they have been wronged respond the same way as “Islamic Militants” or “Palestinian rebels”. And I use those terms loosely. How will public opinion be shaped by the way this event is covered?
Will it send the message there is not hope for “those” people? That is what comes to mind when I think about the Crisis in the Middle East. It is almost a hopeless situation. A situation where one wants to see peace by any means necessary. Do I have those same thoughts about the shooting of an innocent black teen? I most certainly do. Not just a young black teen but any young or old person that is attacked and killed by those that are entrusted to serve and protect.
What upsets me is the coverage of the events. One guy was talking to a reporter and tried to interject a piece about the “black” mindset in America. She cut him off with, “lets talk about the looting.” They repeatedly showed the interview of the Chief of Police where he stated, “last night was the worst night of my life.” Not to discredit him. As I sincerely believe he was being genuine and honest. He was not prompted and had emotion in his voice as he said it. Yet, what about the other victims of last nights events? Do they not share the same sentiment, that it was the worst night of their lives as well?
Anytime you get the “police” to admit to fear. Those who are trained for these situations, to not respond with fear, to say they were “fearful”. What does this say about those that evoke this fear? The must be dangerous and helpless.
It is sad and unacceptable that the community responded this way. This is not the way to respond to any event. The use of violence never solves anything. This is why the continual fighting around the world will never cease. As it goes to be said. There has never been a group of people to take down another group of people, with force, except they became worse than the group they took down. So, it is not acceptable to respond this way. Yet, I understand it. It all goes back to what we are taught. I goes back to what gets the attention needed for “justice” from the other side. That is the way the “black community” is often designed. It is “us “against “you all”. So, to get justice from “you all” this is what we must do. Sad to say it works. Until those that cover these events wizen up to this it will always be a response to events such as these.
Trust me I know. As a black man in this country I have heard this train of thought all of my life when it comes to finding the “solution” to “our” inequality issues. Even in prison. Guys always talk about stopping work or something of that nature. Although, guys have not been successful with this in years, they still mention acts such as work stoppage and events that took place in Missouri as the route to take. The route to justice and equality. Knowing that it has not worked in years and hence forth will never work again. Why, you may ask yourself suggest it as a solution. Because that is the way some of us “think”.
Until this mindset is challenged by those who have the position, influence and authority to challenge it many will continue to not only think but respond this way. As they search for “justice” and “equality”.
Hopefully, something good comes from this tragic situation. If there was one thing I could say to my “people”, and it is hard to say considering the history of blacks in this country, is that we are perceived by the perception we give. True the young teen is not at fault here. But what justice do you get for him by making it about you. When you respond out ignorantly you make it about you. What justice do you get for “him” by looting, robbing and killing your own communities. How are others going to buy into our cry for justice and solutions when we say we want it for us, yet we maim ourselves along the way. That sends a mixed message. One that is not to be trusted. What happens in this event? Nothing.