Black And Brown People Deserve A Break From Doing The Work To End White Supremacy
My fingers should never again have to move vigorously to write another op-ed ultimatum for police officers to stand down against murdering civilians.
April 13, 2021 at 5:11 am
Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
I have degrees that adorn the walls of my rented home. I have a job that may deem respectable. I have never interacted with police officers for more than two minutes at a time. And yet, none of that matters in the blind eye of “law and order.”
Like many of you, I am caught somewhere within the juxtaposition of infuriation, despondency, and a blatant lack of surprise towards the news of two more Black men, Daunte Wright and Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario, being unfairly targeted by police officers in jurisdictions nearly 1,300 miles apart.
These two unfortunate instances add another line to the ongoing and disgustingly embedded stamp on the history of policing. I will never be able to comprehend how it is allowed that one profession causes so much despair — not just in this Nation, that is inaccurately named the United States, but around the world. Just last summer after the murder of George Floyd, the world took part in protests calling out names that we all know: Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, just being a few, while also reminding or introducing us to some new and/or forgotten names, like Adama Traoré.
Although I am not proud of it, I admit that I found myself more bothered by the mere idea that Nazario was ambushed by police while wearing his active army service uniform. Then, I thought to myself: what narrative am I feeding into? Wright was a 20-years-young father of an even younger two-year-old son; this fact alone — atop the fact that, unlike Nazario, he was murdered while being accosted because of his Black skin — should have angered me more. Recognizing and removing my own privilege is a daily walk that I wish more people would undertake. I believe that more and more of us are.
Even then, I pause to extend grace to myself, realizing that this is not a cross for me to bear for too long. I do my part to dismantle the purposeful blame we place on Black bodies, blame that is often mixed with anti-Black, anti-poverty and “the talented tenth” rhetoric. However, after a while, I have to stop myself for my own sanity. Even now I will not even waste too much of my breath calling out to police officers and unions, lawmakers, nor white people. To be very honest, although I will again, I should not have to. All people who exist within these groups have had more than enough exposure to the cries and demands for change in how policing is carried out, particularly in communities with large Black and brown populations.
My fingers should never again have to move vigorously to write another op-ed ultimatum for police officers to stand down against murdering civilians, even those that are known to be “guilty.” I should never again have to mention that I teach young Black and brown kindergarten students and that I would really like to see them grow to adulthood. I should never again have to draft a letter to the city of Philadelphia demanding that it remove funding from its over-inflated and yet underwhelming police department. I should not have to ever again outline why investment in community outreach instead of community policing is the best idea.
If I continue to do this for my entire life, I will be using so much of my precious invaluable and limited time.
There is not a single thing that anyone blessed with Black skin should feel obligated to do to prevent the senseless yet purposeful state-sanctioned and tax-funded tyranny espoused from police officers. Never will all of the marching and protesting calls for funding reallocations, degree attainment, nor being compliant mean anything to them.
However, the blessing that they are so oblivious to is that none of this will ever be done for them, nor because of them. I did not achieve all that I have because I want to paint myself as more respectable and unworthy of police brutality. Because, to be very clear, even if I decided that graduating high school was enough and that I did not want to be a teacher, I still do not deserve to experience tension and fear whenever a police officer is in my presence. There is nothing that justifies, that explains, that allows or makes right what police departments do to destroy Black and brown individual livelihoods and Black and brown families. There is nothing that warrants that we, who are not police officers, who are not lawmakers, and/or who are not White, should be given the “responsibility” of brunt work needed to stop it.
It is at this moment that I am speaking directly to my family members and friends who are police officers (officers everywhere), my white co-workers and their families (white people everywhere), criminal justice lawmakers both local and national: this work falls solely on your shoulders.
While those of us who did not sign up for the responsibility of being white, or an officer, or a lawmaker, continue to wake up every morning and make our best steps forward for ourselves and our families, as it is our inheritance and natural inclination as Black people, the guilt should fall on your shoulders. One thing that I, as a teacher, do not have the luxury of doing is placing the blame nor the onus of responsibility on anyone other than myself should one of my students fail. I personally will not allow any of you to walk away scathe-free.
Get out there and be the ones to call your fellow [white] officers and lawmakers out. You all try going to jail and having tear-gas sprayed in your faces while protesting and uprising. You experience and watch the looped clips of murder on CNN and MSNBC. Someone in the police union should decide to sit and write editorials both internally and externally shouting the need for revolution and abolishment of the authorized and endorsed police totalitarianism. Because, I, like so many, am tired of informing, cautioning and flat-out talking to you all. We are tired of asking and begging not to be killed — such a simple demand made difficult for no other reason other than a clear lack of willingness linked to capitalism and anti-Blackness.
Black and brown people deserve a break from doing the work to end white supremacy. It has always been time for the “leaders” and “good cops” and “not like them white people” of the world to take the initiative and full responsibility to end racist policing worldwide. Credentialed or not, respectability politics aside, and “justifiable homicide” be damned: we (Black and brown civilians) need this to be the very last time. Be warned [again].