OP-ED: Struggling to understand
I must have watched the video of Alton Sterling’s son cry on the internet five times when it first appeared on my Twitter feed. I could not help but watch it over again, and try to understand what just happened and why.
To see Cameron Sterling become the man of the house so suddenly, and in such a terrible way, was heartbreaking. I wanted to be one of those men patting him on the back, embracing him and offering some kind of comfort.
This young man would remember Tuesday, July 5, 2016 not only as the day that he lost his father, but the day when he would never trust a police officer again.
Still, after watching the video a few more times I found myself trying to understand the “fear.” That fear of a darker or lighter skin, that seems so ingrained.
Is it ancestral? Is it taught? Or is it something more?
I waited and watched the barrage of news coverage, the media becoming concerned with Black lives once more and the condolences that followed. All of the dedicated Facebook and Twitter statuses that tried to rally people together, offer some bit of wisdom and calm.
I struggled to find the right words to articulate what I was feeling that day. To say nothing more than that there is a pit in my stomach would not be enough. I am hurt, I am sad and I am fearful. Fearful, not just of looking at someone who looks like me the wrong way but fearful that one day I could find myself in similar situations that echo across the country now. I feel, at times, like an endangered species.
There are good police officers out there, I know some of them. I will continue to respect them and honor their profession. It just gets harder, at times like these, to believe that those who are sworn to protect are actually good.
As I watched the events unfold of Philando Castile, watching him slowly die as an officer pointed a gun at him. I found myself again trying to make some sense of what was going on. There has to be an underlying reason, an explanation as to why African-Americans are always the victims.
I feel so lost at times and find myself yearning for so much more than a simple answer.
I love my people, I care for them and it’s so hard to continue watching them being taken away from me and others. I feel myself becoming numb as shootings and the death of unarmed African-American men become a daily way of life.
I have also become numb to the vigils, the ceremonies, and the press conferences of those who promise repeatedly that “no stone will be left unturned.” I’m tired of the celebrities who come out and say a quote or two about what should be done or what we have to do. Yet, months pass by and nothing truly happens. And after a while, the numbness I feel just becomes pain.
And that pain did not subside when learning about the Dallas police officers who were killed and wounded. That type of action does nothing for African Americans, it does nothing for the cause and there is no justice behind it. Chanting “F--- the police” does not show who we are, and we are something much more.
I understand the anger and frustration, but some of it is misguided. Some of it is lost in translation. And it will continue to be until there is an understanding of “the struggle” that African-Americans, all different shades, face daily.
While it seems like we are at our darkest hour, I like to believe that there is still hope. A way to unify amongst the struggle and ignite ideas instead of ways to inflict more pain.
Yes, the struggle will continue on, but we can overcome this. We have to. We have. We’re strong like that.