This morning my mind and heart ache. As humans we are living in a dark and difficult time. For black Americans, it is a downright fearful time. One can only wonder why now, why now are we seeing increasing violence and overt hostility to people of color from the ones that are supposed to be serving the common good? The recent video showing us the brutal ugliness of a grown police officer with his knee in the back of a 15 year old child is haunting. We have heard the accounts of the alleged pool party when a group of black youths showed up in a predominantly white neighborhood for a birthday party. Police were called when adults supposedly spouted racial slurs and fights ensued. We all understand that a rowdy gang can be frightening but it is disheartening to witness an officer of the law pulling a gun from a holster threatening unarmed teens. It is also disheartening to witness the disparity in treatment depending on one’s skin color. In recent weeks a group of white bikers were arrested in Waco Texas after a massive brawl left 9 folks dead. From all accounts arrests were made in a peaceful fashion. There were no news reports of tear gas or violent behavior to those involved. Perhaps 15 year olds are seen as more of a threat especially if they have brown skin.
I have no doubt in my mind that the election of Barack Obama opened a nasty infected sore in this country. Racism is an ingrained piece of the fabric in American society. We are aware of our history and as much as we would like to put it in the past, it remains in the present. Obama’s election angered the status quo and exemplified the possibility that Black Americans were gaining ground, stepping out of their place so to speak. We all witnessed the heinous treatment the President and his family endured and continue to endure. We watched as references were made to lynchings and monkeys. I cannot recall any other time a President was treated with so much disrespect. In some corners of our country the mentality still exists regarding where black folk belong. As much as we give lip service to a color blind society” we are a long ways from that naieve reality.
People of color have long been familiar with police brutality and many express no surprise at the latest spate of hostility towards blacks. If one has lived long enough and is aware of history, we can recall the Jim Crow era and the fight for civil rights. America was a powder keg and no matter how far we think we have come, the fuse is still ignitable. We can turn our heads and think “thats a shame, those poor kids, they should not have been there, or whatever else we can conjure up in our minds. We can be like ostriches and keep our heads in the sand. We can continue to live in our smug superiority thinking others are less or we can stand up and say we will not accept this. We can talk about it, write about it but we can no longer pretend it is not happening. An ostrich will eventually suffocate if he does not take his head out of the sand.