When you work for a publication, or just pay attention to the news, it’s hard to miss the racism constantly popping up in headlines.
Of the more popular stories to hit newsfeeds are people like BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, and then the woman who called the police on a little boy mowing a lawn. As for Becky and Patty, what were the devastating crimes they needed to end with their vigilantism? Well, BBQ Becky called the police on a black family for using a charcoal barbecue in a park (gasp!) and Permit Patty called the police on an 8-year-old black girl for selling water bottles to try and help her family raise money for a Disneyland trip. The nerve, right?
Though, stories like this didn’t stop there. Naturally, these stories just kept coming into the news and it was hard to keep up with all of them. I recently saw a video of a man named Adam Bloom (now known as ‘ID Adam’) who called the police on a black woman, Jasmine Abhulimen, for swimming in a neighbourhood pool with her son. She filmed the entire altercation. Police confirmed what Abhulimen was saying the whole time: it doesn’t say anywhere at the pool that you need to have identification to get in. She obviously had her own key card to get in, which the police tested to shut Bloom up, and that was it. The police apologized for Bloom nonsensically calling the police, and Abhulimen then asked him if he would apologize. He didn’t.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. When minorities aren’t being singled out, police are doing their fair share in contributing to the violence and discrimination often shown from those in the community.
If you look at the collection of deaths that have taken place at the hands of police, the number is staggering. Oftentimes, the crimes are non-violent and police use excessive force to apprehend the suspects.
My boyfriend and I were talking about this over the weekend. Neither of us is sure how to fix this issue and to be honest, I don’t know if the problem will ever be fixed. Why? Simple. Racism has existed for hundreds of years and it doesn’t look like it’s on the path to stopping anytime soon. Why would it when the police who gun down innocent minorities aren’t indicted or former cops say they don’t think about the victims they kill because “it doesn’t matter at this point.” Or maybe all you need to do is cry on the stand like Jeronimo Yanez after he shot Philando Castile dead in front of his girlfriend and a 4-year-old girl. Yanez pulled Castile over, and Castile disclosed there was a legal, licensed weapon in the car. When Yanez asked for ID, Castile reached for his wallet and was shot five times. Yanez told jurors that “I had no choice” because he thought Castile was going to shoot him when he was reaching for his wallet.
Again, this isn’t the first time that this kind of thing has happened. Look at Charles Kinsey. Kinsey was a mental health therapist who was shot with his hands up as he tried to talk to a patient with autism. The patient, who wandered from the group home, was playing with a toy truck and police thought it was a gun because… of course they did. So, Kinsey tried to defuse the situation by telling the patient to lay on his stomach. Kinsey then put his hands up and laid on his back, telling police what was going on. Officer Jonathon Aledda approached and still shot him. When Kinsey asked him why he did, Aledda literally told him, “I don’t know.”
Though, it would be unfair to say that justice isn’t served on occasion. Blake Salamoni was fired from the police force after shooting Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Christ, Dylann Roof received the death sentence for his mass murder in Charleston, wherein he walked into a church and murdered nine black people. He also laughed when he confirmed that that committed the hate crime.
Even so, these instances of justice don’t make certain neighbourhoods or countries any safer. Sure, sometimes justice is served, but nine times out of ten it’s not. Are people okay with taking that gamble? These are human lives and they’re treated as the inferior. Many don’t need to worry about what it’s like to walk down the street and fear for your life when a cop walks by. Many don’t know what it’s like to teach your children rules about how to stay safe lest you get assaulted by police. What kind of a world is that?
At this time, I’m reminded of a quote from Heather Heyer. Heyer was a 32-year-old murdered in Charlottesville during counter-protests against “Unite the Right,” which was a rally of white nationalists and right-wing groups. She was on the opposing side, instead fighting for justice and peace. Naturally, someone needed to drive a car through the opposing side and murder Heyer while injuring 19 others.
The last tweet that she ever sent out read: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Look at the world around you. There are still plenty of reasons to be outraged.