Friday, July 25, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 2 comments

I can't... Processing the Death of Eric Garner

I can't... Processing the Death of Eric Garner | Yes, We Rise

I am deeply disturbed as I write this. I don’t want any pictures. I don’t want any video clips of his death – no news clips either. I don’t want any words to a song. I want to use my words to really make readers feel and think this through.

Again, a Black male has been murdered. A life, may be not as innocent as we would feel comfortable with, but a life – a man with a family. A man with a record. Still, a man.

As I have reviewed several clips of his offensive death, sadly, The Boy watched, too. From an 8 year old perspective, he wanted to know what Eric Garner had done so wrong to be choked to death. In that vein, I asked my FB friends, “What should Eric Garner have done?” the comments left me very upset. Angry-er. Yes, written like that.

Master did a number on us. It seems every single time our lifestyle, our community, our ‘us’ (yes, written like that) the relationship the black community has with itself and its image is disheartening. Per the answers to my Facebook post, Eric Garner had been arrested several times . . . he was doing wrong – he should have listened and not fought. But I didn’t see a fight. I saw a man who was upset because he was being targeted (again).

This summer has been wrought with racial foolishness. The nice old man who owns The Clippers told his girlfriend how he felt about ‘us’ . . . Stephen A. came to the rescue to tell us what we are doing wrong. For a moment, Stephen forgot he, too is black – and he now, because of position, is a Black man of privilege. White folk don’t see him the same way they saw Trayvon, the young men at the gas station playing their music too loudly, or Mr. Garner. Once in the tower of privilege, it’s very easy to forget and harangue the public on how ‘black folk should act and acquiesce to make white folk feel comfortable'.

I can’t

I can’t

I can’t

Honestly, initially, I did think Stephen A was right on point – and argued some folk down about it. But when my friend, an attorney, explained to me the black (his) male perspective, I understood.

He explained that instead of admonishing the black community and giving lessons on how to make white folk more comfortable, Stephen A should have explained that everyone wears a hoodie – all people. Educated folk, tattooed folk, people who rob and steal – but what people have on should not make us judge them. Another friend explained “We are hated from birth – people hate black men. They are taught we are evil, will rape, and kill etc. – all because of our skin.” While these two concepts may seem foreign to this piece, they aren't.

The relationship we have with our community is equated to that of the battered wife syndrome. After being mistreated and beaten s/he returns to the abuser asking, “What can I do to stop being hurt?” All of us know the story – nothing. It is nothing we can do to really stop the abuse – but leave. The abused takes on the negative imagery the abuser has given. It is a train wreck to watch. As I idly watch the Black Community – we are that. Every time one of our children is harmed by a white man, we turn inward. Some blame Trayvon for being out after dark. Some blame him for wearing a hoodie. Some think the children (these were children) should have turned down the music – listened to their ‘elder’ - and they all would be alive. When I showed my class the movie about Oscar Grant, several of them suggested had he not fought back, sat quietly, he would be alive. I was speechless. I was hurt.

At what point do we – the community – stand for our men? At what point is it not OK for a white man or any other to kill our children? Killing the men, the collective ‘they’ are killing dreams, killing hope – and making it very clear our lives are not equal to theirs.

Every shooting or harsh treatment of our men brings out the argument, “Black on Black crime in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit and other urban areas is high, but we get mad when a white man kills us.” True . . . but I get offended every time I hear of a death of a black man. In that death, we have lost a leader, a father, the potential for greatness. Some think it is designed racism to ensure we end ourselves by ourselves – may be. If that is true, at what point do we rally around our brothers and let them know of other options? At what point do we mentor, demonstrate, love and guide them to and through the wilderness experiences?

Mentioning that concept, I am met with “They have access to education . . .” and “I got out, why can’t they?” Getting out now versus 20 years ago is very different. Several years ago, the traps were not as pronounced. The schools were still caring places holding people (teachers, principals, guidance counselors) who gave a damn – even if your mother didn’t. They had empathy and connections. In that era, people would send a ‘troubled’ child to college and s/he would often find and manifest their potential. Now, all of these people come with preconceived notions about the paper trail they have read about said child. All too often our black males are caught in the poor school system with teachers who don’t know enough about them to care or don’t care enough to know. The cycle pushes them out of education and into the streets. There, they find a hustle. It isn’t legal, it isn’t right, but it allows them to feel like a man. They have money, they have means, they can provide.

When do we become alarmed that too many of our own are selecting the wrong path? Or mistreated by the police? Or not getting proper treatment from teachers, principals – the systems that once protected us, now spews our youth out before actualizing their true potential? When does the community rally around the notion of us – if I made it, he and she will make it, too?

It is my hope our community will return to itself – a center of love and support for all. In seeing the death of Mr. Garner, my son, The Boy is forever spooked. Just when he thought it was ok to be – he’s just getting over Trayvon and the others in Florida – he realizes it may never be ok to be. Just when he is comfortable at being a child, he has not-so-gentle-reminders that someone is always lurking. At any point, he could be wrongly mistaken. Then killed.

As Free As I Wanna Be . . .
Gold D Locs

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  1. Very well stated.

  2. This, sadly, is not uncommon. The history of that police force has been mired in controversy for years. Brutality, profiling, embezzlement.... Internal Affairs isn't enough.... Can we get an FBI probe, please and thanks?