A couple of weeks ago, I saw a video of a young man walking home from the store, minding his own business. He seemed to be a bit eccentric with a charming innocence and unique form of whimsy. However, a store employee and three trained police officers viewed this beautiful young man as a threat. What crime did he commit on this particular night? He was guilty of being a black man wearing a ski mask in Colorado. As he was being apprehended for this horrific crime of wearing a ski mask in Colorado, he rationally explained to the officers that he “was an introvert and his personal space was being violated.” As they choked his frail, helpless body, this young man pleaded, “My name is Elijah McClain and I just want to go home.” I watched these officers that were hired to serve and protect the community choke him until every molecule of oxygen left his body. Fast forward about a week, and I see these same officers posing in pictures, jokingly mimicking the choke hold that they applied to Elijah. If that was not deplorable enough, these officers shared and laughed about these photos in a group chat.
So how does it feel to be a black man in America? I feel defeated. I feel hopeless. I feel horrified. I feel disenfranchised. Let’s set aside race for a second. I question human nature and morality in general. How can one human laugh and joke about taking the life of another human? How can a human that was hired to protect and serve feel so lighthearted and jovial about taking the life of an innocent human? Now let’s go back to race. How can a police department and a district attorney’s office see this deplorable crime against humanity and deem it appropriate and acceptable? Would three black officers keep their jobs after choking an innocent young white man to death?
So what are my hopes for the future? To be honest, I don’t have any hopes for the future. Yes, of course I would like to see police reform and legislation that will somehow lessen the torturous holds of this oppressive system. However, no law or punishment is going to alter human nature. White people have relished the sight of black women and men being humiliated and tortured and raped and hung and choked and ravaged and murdered since they brought us to this country over 400 years ago. They have found this to be a source of entertainment and empowerment for hundreds of years. No legislation will change that. No law will eradicate this deep-seeded, inherited hatred. There is no cure for bigotry and evil. We are fighting a losing battle if we expect that to change.
So what are my hopes for the future? I hope the police never kill me. I hope the police never shoot my grandmother while she is sitting on the couch. I hope the police never shoot my baby sister as she is asleep in her bed. I hope the police never kill one of my friends as they are being pulled over for a taillight. I hope my cousin won’t go for a jog one day and be murdered for exercising in the wrong neighborhood. I hope my uncle never has to experience a knee being planted on his throat for nine minutes. I hope that none of my introverted students get harassed while simply walking home and have to cry out, “I just want to go home” as they are being choked to death. God willing, if I have a son one day, I hope when he leaves to go to the store for some Skittles, I hope I don’t get a call from the coroner saying that he has been shot and murdered by a someone who felt the need to take his life because he was black in the wrong neighborhood. That is my hope for the future.
-A Frustrated Black Man