After posting my blog last Wednesday I watched a video of an unarmed 22 year old man being shot and killed by Sacramento Police.
Here’s something I wrote that has been on my heart all week. I honestly couldn’t even fully enjoy my boyfriend’s birthday because I was busy thinking about Stephon Clark. He will never see another birthday. His family, his kids, his girlfriend will never get to celebrate another birthday with him.
I was cursed with the ability to feel everything intensely. Some days it's a superpower other days it is my biggest weakness. We all have our vices; something to help ease the pain. I write to keep sane because most times it feels like I'm screaming in an empty room. A Seat At The Table by Solange Knowles on [Repeat] Rise. Weary. Cranes In The Sky. Mad. Don't You Wait. Don't Touch My Hair. Where Do We Go From Here? For Us By Us. Borderline. Don't Wish Me Well. Scales. The Chosen Ones. I'm tired of hearing "just pray" I always pray. When I feel intense happiness, I pray. I pray the high never leaves. Pray that I've made it through yet another storm. When my voice is gone cause I've crying too long, I pray. Pray when my back is against the wall and I feel helpless. When prayers turn into screams. My pain, my agony! GOD PLEASE! What else can I do? I'm all prayed out. When I think about the great leaders that came before me, they didn't "just pray". My ancestors did more than pray. Guidance and Light I'm not praying that things just miraculously change. Although my God is fully capable of performing miracles. I pray and ask for guidance to become a light in my community. I pray that God use me because I can't sit around while things "just happen". Why do I feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world? With great purpose comes great responsibility. "Just praying" is easy working for change not so much. Honestly it's a task most of us aren't going to volunteer for. What if Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas or Nat Turner decided to just pray? What if Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks,Malcolm X all decided things weren't ever going to change? What if Mae Jamerson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Barack Obama, Oprah, Eartha Kitt, Madam C.J. Walker, Ruby Bridges all decided that fighting against the system and going against the norm was too difficult and instead conformed and settled for injustice? I cry for men murdered in the streets. Men I've never met. I cry for their significant others and their kids. I cry for their loved ones because mourning and grieving can be a very long and at times lonely path. I cry only for people to look at me crazy. For people to get annoyed because I can't move on. I'm talking about it too much. Rush me off the phone because I'm bringing down the mood. I am mourning, fighting, and trying to bring awareness to an issue that people would rather ignore. Black Lives Matter is a gang or "extreme nationalists" but March For Our Lives is a cause we should all get behind because... it's for the kids. Are we not allowed to be kids? Trayvon Martin,Tamir Rice, Mike Brown and so many more black kids lost their lives but our mourning was ignored. Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark were dads, their kids didn't matter? Why is it more acceptable for this country to mourn mass shootings but injustice, brutality, discrimination, and abuse is some how our fault and we need to get over it. My cries turn to outrage, my outrage turns to anger, my anger turns to passion. My ancestors were able to endure and overcome so much more. They kept fighting. With their minds, with their spirits, with their hard work, with their strength, with their determination they overcame. Not only overcame but changed things for the next generation. As much as I mourn the hate crimes I have to celebrate the progress. I have to keep pushing. Keep using my voice. Keep supporting black businesses. Keep inspiring and empowering one another. Keep educating. Keep seeking knowledge. Keep breaking barriers. Keep having the heavy conversations everyone would rather avoid. Keep taking risks. Keep holding them accountable. Keep making them uncomfortable. Keep breaking records. Keep creating platforms. Creating jobs. Creating companies. Creating organizations. Building credit. Building communities. Building homes. Building strong foundations. We cannot let our spirit be stolen because we still have work to do.
I can’t tell you exactly what happened that night. I don’t know the whole story. None of us know exactly what happen that night. The media gives us bits and pieces. The police officers turned off their body cams after killing Stephon Clark, which means there are details to the story that were covered up.
Stephon Clark was allegedly breaking into cars. The released video footage show Stephon running away from the police into his grandmother’s dark backyard. Both police officers ran into the backyard, one of the police officers yelled “gun” and immediately both officers fired their entire clip. 20 shots total. Later finding out Stephon was not carrying a gun nor a weapon but his cell phone.
Many have argued the cops were just scared of they didn’t have proper training they weren’t racist… this is not a race issue. Okay here’s why I disagree, after Stephon was unresponsive they handcuffed the dead body, realized he didn’t have a gun and their first reaction was to mute the audio on their body cams. “It clearly implies to me that they’re on the scene trying to figure out the coverup,” said Sharpton, who spoke with Clark’s mother Wednesday. “You’re standing over a dead body that you thought had a gun, you find out he had no gun, and your immediate impulse is to mute the sound.” (The Washington Post)
Once the officers went to speak with his grandmother, they talked to her for approximately 20 minutes before informing her that they had shot and killed her grandson in her backyard. The officers also lied saying Stephon didn’t have a gun but he had a crowbar, then they said he had a toolbar, when the truth was revealed that he was only carrying his cell phone. Not only are we being killed, we are being dehumanized. No medics were called, they were too busy covering up what they had done.
My thoughts are… hypothetically speaking even if Stephon was breaking into cars and even if he was carrying a gun, (which he wasn’t) is the protocol to shoot first and ask questions later? Especially when the second amendment is the right to bear arms? Is death the proper punishment for this crime? How is it that mass shooters with AR 15’s are able to stand trial but unarmed black men are killed on site? Yes, I am aware that the police kill other races as well. All that means is police brutality should be a nationwide issue not just a “black” issue right?
I worked for a Law Enforcement Uniform store in college. I met and worked with many officers at different levels in their careers. I’ve encountered academy cadets, first year rookies, veterans, and retired officers from various departments. I do not think all cops are bad or corrupt. But I do know their police duty belts house various weapons. Why are guns the first weapon officers reach for? After drawing their weapon why is their first instinct shoot to kill? Where in the Academy do you learn shoot first ask questions later and turn off your body cam when you realize you killed an unarmed man?
In 2009, I was greatly affected when Oscar Grant was killed by Oakland Police, a few blocks away from where I was raised. Now again, Stephon Clark’s murder hits home for me because I grew up in Sacramento. Eric Garner’s murder scared me because I have a tall African American dad who may look like a threat to some people. Sandra Bland’s murder touched me because I have a family full of African American women who have attitude and a smart mouth especially when they are fed up. Philando Castile’s murder pissed me off because I have a boyfriend who is a cook, trying to do the right thing. Yet and still we may be pulled over for a traffic stop and be blown away because of one wrong move and the color of our skin. It cuts deep when it’s so close to home.
I can go on and on and on. I’m not here to give a wordy think piece on these issues. This is just my opportunity to vent. Mentally it weights heavy on me when gun violence is something the inner city communities have struggled with for decades. While white mass murderers are given the chance to claim mental illness, black people are labeled “dangerous” “thugs” “hoodlums” with or without a gun in hand. Maybe just maybe there are a lot of minorities in inner cities struggling with untreated mental illnesses as well, in a country that is more comfortable just locking them up or killing them instead of helping them. OR here’s a thought maybe these trigger happy police officers are also battling untreated mental illnesses while being employed by an institution that protects them instead of holding them accountable.
Our marches and protests are labeled riots but when suburban kids deal with gun violence the whole world stops and recognize their hurt. I had to deal with shootings every time my friends and I went to a party. I had to bury friends and family members due to gun violence as well. Where was our march? Even our hashtag we created was turned into a negative label. Everyone cheer for #MarchForOurLives but when we cheer #BlackLivesMatter we are considered a gang? We’ve BEEN marching but the only thing that makes the news is negative publicity. Even the celebrities that have stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter lost endorsements. Prime example, Colin Kaepernick who silently protested police brutality is not only blacklisted in the NFL but his name is constantly dragged in the mainstream media.
We will not be silenced. We cannot be broken. Against all odds. Still We Rise.
Black Lives Matter.
Thank you for reading!
P.S. The “Black Lives Hella Matters” shirt is from a Bay Area born Urban Apparel Line called Hella Bay Clothing check them out hellabayclothing.com/