So far I’ve only been posting on Sundays, but I really felt moved to write about something that I’ve heard about in the news recently. By now many people will have been made aware of the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile that have occurred consecutively over the past two days. I call them murders because that is what they are. It was when I watched the video clips of both Castile and Sterling being reprimanded and shot, that I felt this deep, guttural feeling of sadness and disgust; one that I can’t really describe.
We, as a people, can no longer skirt around racism as an issue. There must be no mistaking that these policemen are MURDERERS. They shot these men in cold blood; Castile, shot four times and Sterling at point blank range. Those who are not comfortable with isolating these behaviors as an unthinkable injustice are fundamentally and desperately part of the problem. They must be held responsible and made punishable for TAKING THE LIFE of another human being and yet, we will hear law enforcement representatives inconclusive and unsure about the officer’s motivations for MURDER, leaving these policeman unaccountable. Years and years of racism, slavery and oppression has still left the bitterness of bigotry unbridled in the ‘land of the free’. Those in the position to do so are able act on their hatred cultivated by an interminable fear of dark faces.
It seems that the colour of our skin has become more threatening than the very, violent weapons used to kill us in our thousands. The suffocating injustice of groundless police brutality is one that besmirches the lives of many African Americans. It forces them to live in fear. Like Castile’s girlfriend said: ‘it could’ve been any of us’. I can only possibly imagine the suffering of the families left behind, held victim by something that, at their level, they will never be able to control. It seems that the injustice and inequality of white privilege has for far too long been ignored.
Yes ALL lives matter, but at this time it is about trying to eradicate a prejudice, engrained within American culture over generations that allows black people to be beaten and shot in the streets without question. A culture, that allows a six-month prison sentence to be given to one i.e. Brock Turner and a 14-year sentence another black rapist.
It seems that those ‘protecting’ the Americans are given license to enforce their own racial prejudice on a people who cannot possibly be held accountable for the stereotyping and profiling of their predecessors. These men (Sterling and Castile) like many other AMERICAN citizens were LICENSED to be in possession of firearms. Now we don’t WHY they had guns, but legally they were eligible to keep them. Whether they were using the guns for protection from violence or for shooting cans from logs is actually besides the point. What is CRITICAL is that these men were NOT brandishing their weapons at the point of confrontation, nor were the acting erratically. If you can’t see that, then please open your eyes and look at the tapes properly. These policemen are bending the rules of the judicial system to exact their racial hatred on undeserving victims. That to me is vile, it is disgusting and it is a dire injustice.
Quite honestly, I cannot be convinced that these acts were not out of racial hatred, it is my opinion that those who believe otherwise are skirting around the issues of oppression and xenophobia, and are the very reasons why race relations are not and never will be a comfortable talking point. Discrimination is continual. It’s like a cockroach that cannot be killed. No one is born racist but as long as there is propaganda on television, prejudice in music, in rap, in newspapers and with parents indoctrinating and poisoning and their children’s minds by condoning racism or homophobia or transphobia, there will always be hatred.
Now I understand that it is easy for people, including myself to jump on the bandwagon, propagating the ‘black lives matter’ hash tags and playing Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ and thinking we’ve done our bit to show that we’re anti-racism. But to me, the very idea that we are VOICING our concerns and discontent with the system is a step forward. I think that it still has a lot to do with culture. This is why I for one do not agree with the use of racial slurs and derogatory slang in social settings, it proliferates a sense comfort in demeaning other races. Terms like the ‘n word’ etc. I am particularly uncomfortable with.
As a black girl, I am extremely blessed to have been raised in a privileged community. Here in the UK, or at least in area that I live, the fact that my closest friends have been exposed to racial diversity, allows us to have open discussions about prejudice. This means that we can ask uncensored questions about each other’s culture, tradition and attitudes, which allows love and mutual understanding to grow from our differences. I truly believe that discussion and education is one of the ways that we (who don’t have much political influence) can try to make gradual changes to society. In this way hopefully, one day, places like Russia will unanimously accept homosexuality, adopting the same approach that allowed discussion and protest by the LGBTQ community leading to the legalisation and acceptance of gay marriage In the UK.
One thing that my Mum was saying to me is that there will always be hatred. People we always fear what is different or what they don’t know. If we look at the tensions cultivated by the violent verbal and physical abuse between the Russian and British football fans earlier in June, we can see it boils down to diversity between opposing sides of a football game. A football GAME. She also said that even if there were no Guns or weapons at all people would still find ways to hurt or kill each other, which is true.
I couldn’t possibly hope to stay in the know and up to date with all the violent massacres and killings of people in the world. I can only express my feelings for what I am exposed to. But recently the June’s attack at Ataturk airport in Turkey, which killed 42 people, seemed to receive considerably less media coverage than the earlier Orlando Shootings. Although I’m not Turkish, this confused and upset me and left me questioning why? Perhaps because the very same fear of extremism that so many associate with Islam, is stopping people from being as sympathetic with the suffering of it’s people. THIS ALSO HAS TO STOP. This attack was by ISIS and yes, it was an attack on a Muslim country. It seems that many have been conditioned to link the acts of ISIS to the Islamic Faith. It is clear, however that ISIS piggybacks Islam, using it as guise to vindicate their violent acts of terror. Similar to the way the American police try to use black stereotypes of violence and antagonism as an excuse to shoot black people on site.
People are people for goodness sake, people are not their race, they are not even the history of their race. They are not their religion or their gender or their sexuality or their monetary value, they are human beings. We are all human beings. Peel back our skin, and cut away any superficial physicality and we are all the same.
The Song for the week to go with this post is Nas’ ‘Rule’,a reworking of Tears for Fear’s: ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’. I love this song , it talks about hatred and power struggles in America and promotes peace and unity; which is fitting for Today’s subject matter. Follow this link: Nas: Rule