Seven hundred words are not enough.
Seven hundred words will not reignite light in the eyes of two men, nor will they return color to cold, black skin which has been laid to rest. They will not erase petrifying memories burned into the innocent mind of a 4-year-old.
America, the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have unearthed the boiling hypocrisy that pulses underneath your skin.
Tell me: Where did they go wrong?
You told them if they wanted to be safe, they had to be armed, so they were.
You told them if they wanted to be safe, they had to comply with no hesitation, so they did.
You told them if they wanted to be safe, they had to keep their records clean, so they did.
You told them if they wanted to be safe, they had to put their hands up, so they did.
They did every single thing you asked and they were silenced.
So what you meant was, if people of color want to be safe, they have to shut up, look down and get the hell out.
So what you meant was, you, White America, reserve the right to be armed to protect yourself. How dare a black man with a license to carry assume those rights apply to him in a country which has never valued anything but his quick rhymes and free throw percentage — a country, which will wrench from his vocabulary and dreadlocks before leaving his limp body to bleed out onto a driver’s seat.
Did the entire National Rifle Association lose internet access?
Every day of the year, my Facebook feed is flooded with gun lobbyists mourning for the discrimination and unfair treatment they are forced to face.
But when two men are assassinated immediately after informing an officer of their legal possession of firearms, where’s the NRA rage? Where’s the brigade of gun rights activists posting their scathing statuses about the raging liberal agenda? Is something different this time?
I can’t think of what it could be.
How offended are you, exactly, by minority empowerment?
When we chant “#BlackLivesMatter” you are so quick to defend: “not just black lives!” But not a word of #AllLivesMatter after Newtown, or Columbine. Not a word of it when unarmed white men are shot by the police, which continues to happen at alarming rates. So it’s not a statement, but a reflex — an insuppressible urge to scream and kick back because you are so threatened by our agency, because it’s easier than considering that maybe we have no choice but to specify that black lives matter too, when everyone else has seemingly forgotten.
The murders of Castile and Sterling are, in a word, ordinary. Truth be told, no one is shocked. As a people, we are numb to death of color — both domestic and international. News of the murder of five Dallas police officers circulated in minutes rather than hours, and I had the option to make my profile picture a French flag, but never Iraqi.
City officials stand in soldarity in response to Dallas shootingMadison Mayor Paul Soglin and several city leaders stood in solidarity with both police officers and victims of police shootings across Read…
Of course all lives matter. But we cannot care exactly equally about everything simultaneously when one subset of lives is so blatantly, systematically disadvantaged.
Protest must disturb the peace. Dismantling a faulty system is bound to generate noise. There is startling hypocrisy in complaining about a march that delays traffic on the very same street previously soaked with the tears of young children as they were spectators to the theft of an innocent man’s life.
And that reality makes you less uncomfortable than hearing “black lives matter?”
I am sick.
Why are 700 words not enough?
Because in the end, I am speaking my pain with the knowledge that pain alone is no vehicle for change.
Because in the face of devastation, people of color are expected to be rational, to box their feelings into a Facebook status or an opinion column with a word count when perhaps they only have three words left to say:
Stop killing us.
Understand the agonizing grief of your black sisters and brothers.
Understand that the institutions which uphold police brutality are our common enemy.
Understand that it is senseless for us to divide as we work tirelessly to prevent further violence, for blood runs the same no matter the color of the skin it was spilled from, whether the stain seeps onto a blue uniform or a cafeteria supervisor’s apron.
Understand that whether we are hateful, or whether we are people of peace, humanity is one. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Until black lives matter, none of us are free.
Yusra Murad ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in psychology and business.