I felt the sting of threatening tears as I read tweet after tweet, largely authored by black faces. Individual, collective, virtual protests over the acquittal of the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. Rekia, a 22-year old, black Chicago resident was unarmed when off-duty officer, Dante Servin, shot her in the back of the head, killing her. Rekia joins a growing list of unarmed black Americans who’ve died as a result of encounters with law enforcement. Rekia Boyd also became another hashtag: #RekiaBoyd.
As the burning tears pooled, I noticed another name repeating in my feed, another black death turned symbol of America’s continued refusal to acknowledge it’s institutional racism problem. This time it was 25-year old Freddie Gray of Baltimore, who suffered a SEVERED SPINAL CORD after an arrest, the cause of his eventual death on April 19, 2015.
Last week it was #EricHarris.
The week before that, it was #WalterScott.
Unfortunately many other names accompany theirs on the registry of lives ended by those hired to “protect and serve,” including those whose stories for whatever reason don’t get socially amplified.
All around me life goes on. The media makes a fuss over the usual news of unimportance like fashion at Coachella, Kylie Jenner “lip challenges” or which fast food establishment a Presidential candidate visits. Meanwhile, more Americans get shot by law enforcement and in some cases even pay-for-play officers, and life goes on for every else.
#FreddieGray 346th killed by police in 2015 April 19th. Gray was killed in a van by Baltimore PD. #Every8Hours pic.twitter.com/2UYhaLVN2Q
— No Justice No Peace (@drumbeats4peace) April 19, 2015
Why does this keep happening? And why do so few people seem to care?
I’m sick and tired of seeing black lives as hashtags.
Every hashtag inflicts another cut on my soul and dampens my faith in America’s ability to overcome it’s oppressive roots.
I’m tired of seeing people erase #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter nonsense when we routinely see examples in this county of just how much black lives DON’T SEEM TO MATTER.
It’s evident in the amount of energy some people waste in forming intellectually dishonest comments like:
“Well, why was he running from the cops?”
“If you just obey the law, you have nothing to worry about.”
“What about black on black crime?”
“Not all cops are bad.”
We all know not all cops are bad. Right now this isn’t about cops. This is about a flawed system of government-sanctioned murder. This is about people routinely abusing their power and getting away with it while dead bodies pile up.
I think we’re in the middle of a national crisis and not enough people are talking.
I’m laying low this week, turning away from media, social and otherwise. I can’t handle another hashtag.
Rest in peace to all the black lives lost in this crisis. May their families also find some relief from their suffering.
May more Americans wake up to the reality of what’s going on in our “justice” system.