“Negroes – Sweet and docile, Meek, humble and kind: Beware the day – They change their mind.” ~ Langston Hughes
My heart is heavy. Once again, I’m writing in the aftermath of another killing of a black man at the hands of a white cop. Another black man gunned down over something incredibly minor. Another black man painted as a superhuman, fear inducing monster who gave the officer no choice except to put him down like a wild dog in the streets.
Sure, this time is a bit different. This time someone videotaped a completely different reality which was taken seriously. One that shows this cop gunning down 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back from at least 10-15 feet away. One that possibly, though more than likely, shows a taser being planted next to his lifeless body in order to corroborate the tried and true “I feared for my life” defense used by rogue cops nationwide these days. One that instigated an actual investigation, firing, and charges for the cop involved. Time will tell if the murderer is convicted, but as distasteful as it feels to say, at least this one was arrested.
A common response permeates, however. Not a week after the video came out showing their son and brother being murdered, the family of Mr. Scott was put on television to profess their trust in The Lord and forgiveness extended to the killer cop. Not one week was given to this family to process before they were showing their meek and mild spirit and letting America know they were devastated, but strong in their faith. As such, it was their duty to allow God to get justice for them while they put on a brave face and let go of any desire for vengeance.
Forgiveness. That which proves we are better than our oppressors. That which makes us feel as though we aren’t on their level. We are better humans because we can forgive the person while loathing their actions. We know where our help comes from, so we don’t have to be vengeful. We don’t have to cry out in anger at those who have wronged us. We can rest assured that our secret cries are heard and one day, they will have to give account to their higher power and be punished for their sins.
Just as Christianity was beaten into our ancestors, the ideas of being docile, meek and mild were as well. These were strategic mental placements to make sure the slaves did not revolt, or hold on to anger towards the abusive masters. Generation after generation, we were taught to “cast our cares on The Lord” and he would take care of it eventually. I’m convinced this is an integral reason for the lack of organized revolution on the part of slaves, who outnumbered the ruling class many times over. Even after slavery ended, these ideas were so ingrained and the oppression so suffocating, the posture of most African-Americans remained the same. Do the best you can, and hope like hell the afterlife is better.
This posturing has done little to nothing to stop the violence against our people. Constantly turning the other cheek is an impotent stance while more members of our community are being killed with no punishment for the killers. Trayvon Martin’s killer roams free to commit more crimes (which he has an uncanny ability to walk away from.) Mike Brown’s killer roams free with a hefty sum of money raised to start over wherever he wants. Aiyana Stanley-Jones’s killer is walking freely while the 7-year-old’s family undoubtedly feels her loss daily. Eric Garner’s killer continues to live his life after choking the father to death on a New York street, while the man who shot the cell phone video showing the killing is afraid to eat in prison because of threats against his life. Not to mention the countless other brown faces whose murders were never reported locally or nationally, and whose murderers continue to patrol areas with commendations and honor bestowed upon them in the line of their racism-saturated duty. Where is this vengeance that the victims speak of when quoting “Vengeance is mine, saith The Lord?” I have not seen any evidence of its existence either.
To this I say, enough! Enough of taking the proverbial “high road” while our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers are gunned down in the streets with no repercussions for their murders. Enough of our young people’s lives being snatched away with impunity, their killers immune from suffering any consequences for their actions. Enough of trying to be the face of strength and grace for a nation that doesn’t even concede our humanity, much less our high moral ground. Enough of giving these cops, not just rogue cops, but all cops who either murder or sit silently by while their colleagues murder, the go ahead to kill black men and women on sight since they have a good chance of beating any possible punishment for doing so. Enough of appealing for calm in a situation where our very lives are at stake. Enough.