If someone slaps you once, you may find it in your heart to forgive the perpetrator. If they slap you twice, you might, if you’re angelic, give them the benefit of the doubt. But if they slap you three times or more, you just might figure that something is up! It will then be necessary for you to change your strategy and to adopt a different approach to what is apparently a very bad position. Such is the case of the killing of Black people, especially men, by the police.
It has happened again. Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American male, was shot dead on his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento, CA. by police officers who were supposedly looking for a suspect accused of breaking windows. Officers shot Stephon 20 times, with 8 bullets actually hitting their target, 6 of them in his back. They apparently, so the story goes, thought Stephon looked like the suspect. He had a cell phone in his hand, but the police allegedly thought it was a gun, and opened fire. The word “allegedly” is being used because this is not the first time that police have “confused” a cell phone with a gun!
A private autopsy commissioned by Clark’s family determined that Stephon didn’t die immediately. He suffered before expiring. Once again, the Black community and allies are up in arms protesting and demonstrating about another outrageous murder committed by the police. Interestingly, Stephon Clark was mowed down just a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King also had his issues with law enforcement. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director at that time, had what can be called a vendetta against Dr. King because of his activism. Some people actually believe that Hoover had something to do with King’s assassination.
Stephon Clark’s murder is just the most recent in a long line of murders by the police. Fernando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and a whole host of other unarmed Black men have been killed outright by the police. The issue is clearly getting out of hand. The lynchings that were prevalent during the Jim Crow era have become the lynchings by police gunfire during this age of mass incarceration. When observers questioned the Trump administration regarding this growing problem, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that it was considered to be a “local issue” by the White House. Think on this: something that is having an impact all across America is considered to be a “local issue” by the Trump administration. How disingenuous! Discerning individuals, though, are able to see beyond this obvious untruth. Whether or not Trump recognizes the problem or whether American law enforcement entities refuse to change, these murders should send a clear message to the African American community regarding the intent of the perpetrators. We know, of course, that there are good cops, but it is also apparent that there is a cabal of rogue cops who are apparently determined to carry out their own agenda when it comes to Black people.
What was above board during the Emmitt Till era has become sub-rosa during this age of what seems to be a war on Black men and, by extension, Black people. Because of this, it is time that we take control of our collective destiny. It is common to think that external forces have complete control over what happens to our lives, but the truth is that external forces respond to who we are, to the visions that we craft. Whether we believe it or not, we CAN change this dark force that is attempting to annihilate the community. Unfortunately, those Blacks who believe in themselves and experience success in their chosen directions, are often called sellouts. Why? Probably because others who do not put in the efforts will be shown up and deprived of an excuse for a lack of success. We no longer have the luxury of inaction. The current environment wherein trained law enforcement officers can’t tell the difference between a gun and a cell phone requires that we force change. This calls for extraordinary measures, which boil down to the same old oft-touted formula – overcome self-hatred and opt for cooperation. Focus resources on those who support the community and economically withdraw from those who do not. Plain and simple! A Luta Continua.