“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity…”
The above quote from Dr. King is one I’ve seen and heard several times, but lately it relates to some of the most heart wrenching stories in news. More importantly, it appears as though ignorance and lack of a conscience has been disguised as fear. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott and Eric Harris are the few cases this year where unarmed black men have been killed by police either by a gun or the use of excessive force. In every last case, the officers have claimed to “fear for their lives.” Unfortunately, over the years so many more have lost their lives at the hands of those summoned to protect and serve. Honestly, it is truly disheartening…and as I watched the videos of Eric Garner choked to death, Walter Scott shot in the back like an animal, and then Eric Harris shot “on accident,” I cried. I cried for several reasons…because I was angry, sad and filled with outrage. Justice failed to occur in each case as these men were revoked of their constitutional rights provided in both the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.
I truly believe one of the hardest tasks in America is to live as a Black man. I don’t use that term lightly nor do I believe that the world should have pity on Black men…but when it obviously appears like it’s open hunting season…you live in fear. It’s obvious that you don’t have the opportunity to make the same mistakes as others because one false move can end your life. There is no promise that you will have your day in court. Then there are other situations like the case of Martese Johnson, the University of Virgina student arrested by state alcohol regulators during a brutal and bloody account. A case that demonstrates that academic achievement will not save you and once again a minor issue escalates at the hands of authorities. I honestly could go on for days–but I won’t for several reasons.
Instead I’ll reflect on a situation that opened my eyes a little. This past weekend, I was at work and my coworker failed to understand why it was important to keep repeating that an unarmed black man was shot by a white police officer. Was I upset? Not really, I just viewed it as sincere ignorance to an issue happening in the world. It was clear that she views the world through colorblind eyes…which is awesome…but unfortunately we don’t live in a colorblind society and unicorns along with this perfect utopia don’t exist.
The heart of the matter here is that BLACK LIVES MATTER. Of course–all lives matter, so I don’t need anyone to remind me. However the powerful phrase has evolved into a movement after countless race issues have surfaced in America. The statement serves as a reminder of how Black lives are easily the target for brutal attacks. It’s an affirmation that all lives do indeed matter and has even served as the cover of the most recent issue of Time Magazine. Honestly, no matter how many times I rework the situations in my mind, play devil’s advocate with what-ifs…I never find a justifiable reason for a life to be taken with no regards.
The greater issue is that the lives of Black men both young and old have lost value in the eyes of many. How did we get back to this point? How are officers repeatedly released of charges or receive punishment that doesn’t amount to the loss of a life? It’s a conversation that this controversy has sparked and maybe one day we’ll receive answers. Do I believe that we will ever get to a point where the ignorance will disappear? Not at all. I just hope that others will one day value the lives of Black men as much as I do.
Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Alonzo Ashley, Wendell Allen, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott and Eric Harris… Just a few of the names that come to mind when I think of all the unarmed men lost at the hands of the police over the years.
Dear Black Men…I value, appreciate and respect you. More importantly, I understand that black lives matter. Keep pushing, be socially aware and understand the value of your life.
“Nothing in all the word is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity…”