With nearly a month to go before I walk onto my college campus, I should be feeling a sense of joy and happiness about this next step of my life. Unfortunately, those emotions couldn't be any more towards the back of my mind. Instead, I'm feeling a combination of rage and frustration, but the fear in my heart overcomes each of those feelings. The fear of my name being the next hashtag or my death being the cause of the next protest. Not only do I fear for myself, I fear for all those who look like me and I fear that an officer may feel that I am a true threat to his life on a routine traffic stop. It seems as if America is following a chain reaction towards the extinction of the black man.
Last year alone law enforcement killed 306 blacks. Every 28 hours an unarmed black man is slain by the police. Sadly, before I finish this article there may very well be another hashtag on social media. As I watched the horrific murder of Alton Sterling on Twitter last week I felt more than pain – I was left speechless and in fear of my life. I watched as cops physically held a man down and executed him on camera. Hours later I was left still feeling emotionally and physically drained, but there was another video of a black man, Philando Castile being murdered live on Facebook while his 4-year-old daughter watched from inches away. As myself and probably thousands and thousands more African Americans did, I clicked on that video. I truly am worrisome of everyone's mental state after watching those videos. There is no way anyone with a heart will leave those videos the same way they arrived.
The next day on Twitter I watched as countless people tried their hardest to justify the killings of two black men on camera. I watched as members of Black Lives Matter argued with racist twitter accounts hiding behind an egg profile image. After 48 hours of violence, I wasn't expecting the next breaking news to be five police officers murdered, but indeed it was. I watched as those same people who attempted to justify the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile revealed their true anger towards the black community. After hearing the news I instantly shed a tear for those five officers, because I know that behind those uniforms were real humans with real grieving families who will never get to greet their loved ones again – the same as the hundreds of black people who have fallen victim to police violence.
I am mature enough to admit that every police officer is not out to murder black people, but I am also smart enough to see that since we want tighter gun control we must also provide tighter requirements to protect our communities. We can't just hand any individual a badge and a gun allow them to keep killing blacks. There should be just as hard of requirements mentally as any high-level government job such as the armed forces. There are truly polices officers who have a deep-rooted hatred towards the black community and are one by one wiping us out.
I don't plan on ever getting in any trouble in my life, but if I miss a stop sign and get pulled over should that mistake cost me my life, while a police officer who murders an unarmed black man gets a free vacation?
Growing up in the South, I am used to different forms of prejudices and it honestly does not bother me anymore. It could be following me around a store or someone looking at me funny while I'm in certain neighborhoods. I'm not sure if is because I've been exposed to different cultures since I was young or if it's just the way I was raised, but there will only be positive energy given from me at all times. There will likely be more hashtags and protests will continue until we finally see a change, but I can't help but wondering – does my life really matter?
Lead Image: AJ Wilson via Twitter