December 16, 2014


I defy you to listen to the words of these young protesters and not be moved to tears. Blacks came to this country in shackled in ships in their own excrement and if they were lucky enough to reach their destination alive, they were enslaved for life. Over centuries, things have improved in many ways. And kids the age of many of these protesters weren't weren't forced to endure the humiliation of entering through the back doors of restaurants or drinking from separate water fountains from whites. Although these humiliating, soul-destroying experiences must be passed down in the collective psyche of the race which experienced them.

Yet in 2014, blacks are still being gunned down by those who we pay to protect us. It is deeply disturbing to have people take to the streets with a slogan of "I can't breathe" because they've seen the footage of cops in our city attacking and suffocating a man for selling loose cigarettes. Then the cop who administered the fatal, illegal chokehold gets off scot-free. Despite the progress that you'd hope having our first mixed race president now would suggest we've made as a country, the latest string of nationwide killer cops are now forcing black and latino youth to wake up that they are still not safe, and still second class citizens whose lives don't matter. We've all got a lot of waking up to do. I like to think of myself as someone who is aware of my white privilege, but physically, I can never be aware of what people of another skin color face on a daily basis. This clip contains some moving words which help to explain their perspective. I've put a few quotes below but my real hope is that you'll watch this clip and share the outrage over a situation that anyone interested in equality must pitch in to stop now. The majority of this country considers itself to be christian. Surely no true christian could teach Thou Shalt Not Kill and feel right about how our law enforcers have too often become murderous lawbreakers.

I've seen some clips in the mainstream media which cast aspersions on this movement--Police Commissioner Bill Bratton whining yesterday about what the protests are costing the city due to increased staffing and one guy selling I Can't Breathe t-shirts being asked where the money from the sales went to. Who cares where it went? If I Can't Breathe is a message that people want to wear emblazoned on their t-shirts, then surely it's nothing but good ole-fashioned American entrepreneurial spirit to create those shirts to meet a demand and earn a living. I prefer to listen to Democracy Now's coverage of what actual protesters have to say.

GARVEY X: I’m eight. I’m here with my mom, because we are trying to fight for our rights. We are trying to fight for our rights, for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and a lot of people who are dead by bad police.

DARRELL GREENE: "Me, my father, my son. Who’s next?" And what that image means is, at this point, I know I’m a productive citizen, and I don’t feel safe in my own community. I’ve never been in trouble with law enforcement. And from what I’m seeing on the news and what’s been going on, I really wonder: Am I next?

NILAN JOHNSON: I’m here because Americans, period, are being preyed on, right now. African Americans are once again fighting for the right to be human, and I think that’s horrible.

KAYESHA: My name is Kayesha, and I’m here because what is happening in this country, what has been happening, from Emmett Till 50 years ago to Eric Garner and Akai Gurley now, has shown us that in 50 years it is still a death sentence to be black in America.

RON DAVIS: My name is Ron Davis. I’m the father of George Davis, the young man that was killed in Jacksonville, Florida, for loud music. We want to let you know that we are the families who are suffering, but y’all are suffering along with us. We have all these families. I have families listed on this placard. And every single day, every single night, there’s another young family member being killed in the streets. Every life matters. No more, no more, no more!

SABAAH JORDAN: We had people taking to the streets and demanding justice. And it was people of all colors. It was people of different ages. It was people of different backgrounds. It was people who are ready to evolve as human beings. And I think that when we can finally evolve past racism and we can finally evolve past, you know, something so petty as skin color, that’s going to mean evolution for everybody. That’s going to mean a better world for everybody to live in. I think people recognize that, and I think that that’s what the numbers reflect.

We’re working together. We’re building a movement. We believe that we can live in a better world. And I think it’s also, you know, a sign of the time. We’re in a world where it’s difficult to find a job, it’s difficult to pay off student loans—everything is very difficult. And so, it forces you to ask questions: Why is it like this? And then, when you see people being killed in the street and police officers not being held accountable, that’s just one more thing that tells you that something is really, really wrong and that if we don’t do anything about it, that this is the world that we’re going to inherit as adults. It’s hard to think about having children as a black woman in this world right now. And so, that’s where I’m coming from.

PLEASE WATCH THE CLIP BELOW. There's a companion clip on from Al Sharpton's DC March which features a passionate speech from Amadou Diallo's mom.(Unarmed, Amadou was shot at 41 times and killed by 4 cops in 1999. All four were acquitted.)