By Jerrett Benjamin (@jereett)
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin. Officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane watching as it took place.
Before him, was Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others.
After him, was Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Tony McDade, David McAtee.
How many more lives need to be lost at the hands of those in blue? How much screaming and crying must we do before justice is rightfully served?
The injustices that my people have undergone for centuries have been too much to bear. It is no surprise that we have chosen to fight back and demand our voices to be heard. It is, however, upsetting to see that police officers would rather use brute force against us-- tear-gassing and beating us senseless-- than to stand with us and work to challenge the stereotype that ACAB.
How can you say all lives matter when officers are actively covering their body cameras and covering their badge numbers with tape? They have the intent to brutalize black people and it shows. These cops chose to be one. I didn’t choose to be black and to be born into a society where I’m seen as less than and have to work 1000x harder to be held at the same standard as a white person. These police officers can take off their uniforms but I can’t take off my skin. If you don’t think ACAB, how does that leather taste?
To all the white people who have chosen to stay “neutral” and be silent during this time, your silence is deafening and you have chosen to side with the oppressor. Your action, or your lack thereof, is sickening. Stop trying to say that not all cops are bad because you have a family member who is good and also a cop. They are a part of a corrupt system that profits off of the unjust killing and incarceration of people of color. To not see color is not the goal. By not seeing color you are invalidating my blackness. The goal is to see and hear me, despite you being in a place of privilege and to work towards educating yourself and fighting against the racism I face on a daily basis.
You say that you want no violence but where was this same energy when you were out rioting because of your sports teams winning? “You're judging symptoms and you’re missing the illness.” - Chris Cuomo. It is time for you to put your money and your bodies where your mouths are. Go out to the protests (if you’re allowed) and use your white privilege to protect black protestors. Sign the petitions. Donate money. Share on your Instagram stories. If you want to be educated, stop using me as a search engine. Research for yourself and ask questions to be clarified. Stop glamorizing protests as a way to show that you’re “woke” just to get clout and show off your not so cute outfits. You’re worried about if Brandy Melville will have those trendy new pants in stock and if you’ll have your summer vacation to Aruba. I'm worried about whether I’ll make it home alive or not.
It’s funny to see how the same white people who are so “down” with black culture, getting cornrows in their hair or calling us their “best friends” have somehow disappeared off the face of the earth now that it’s time to actually show out and fight for the rights of my people.
You want to be so “hip” and “fresh” when it’s convenient for you, but you don’t want the struggle. You want to date a black man to have mixed children but can’t deal when your baby comes out with nappy hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. Sorry Mackayleigh but this isn’t Build-A-Baby. It’s also time to stop fetishizing my black features. I am not my voluminous lips. I am not my gorgeous melanated skin. I am not my perky bottom. I am NOT a body. I am a person with feelings that deserve to be heard and respected. Instead of being fetishized my features need to be appreciated. POC who don’t fit conventional beauty standards deserve to be seen and loved too. Just because I don't have white skin with light hair and light eyes and toned abs doesn’t mean I should receive any less recognition.
Let’s talk about riots. If you’re going to destroy things, go for big businesses that are known to be racist or government property. What we’re not going to do is loot and attack small businesses and places that serve as the main source of income for many black people as well as the only access point for them to receive basic necessities. Going to impoverished neighborhoods and destroying things like Link NYC machines that many homeless people use to contact family members isn’t helping anyone. Go to places like Wall Street if you’re so intent on causing destruction. What you can do is stop the undercover cops from inciting riots and trying to make the cops justified in beating us. You have to understand that black people are not fighting with violence. We are trying to peacefully protest and police officers will always have the resources and power to take advantage of us, but who’s showing that in the media? Nobody was against violence when the Boston Tea party (which was a riot) happened. Nobody was against violence when the American Revolution was going on which textbooks love to romanticize. Let’s not forget that protesting was the only way to create change during the Civil War, the Stonewall Riots, the Suffrage Movement. Guess who was at the head as some of the main supporters during those times. BLACK. PEOPLE.
We’re defenseless. It doesn’t help that that same system and its supporters contain people in positions of power that will eventually make the final decision as to if change actually happens. Number 45 is not on our side. His repulsive use of words like “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” and his declaration of martial law just goes to show that he would rather show off the power that he doesn’t deserve than to try to implement change that would benefit his country. White people have benefitted off of the oppression of black people for centuries and it’s clear they don’t plan on changing that any time soon. It’s truly saddening that racist ideals are constantly being passed down and this generation will be the next ones in the police force, causing this vicious cycle that has to be cut short.
Not being racist should be the standard, not something to be begged for. People need to understand that this fight isn’t a political issue. It’s a human rights issue. Just because slavery and segregation “ended” doesn’t mean it hasn’t been presenting itself in different ways. It’s no surprise that the areas of segregation are now the most impoverished but culturally diverse parts of cities. I wonder why those are the areas that are also the most policed by white officers. Police have killed AT LEAST 104 unarmed black people in 2015. 36% of unarmed people killed by police in 2015 were black, despite black people being 13% of the population. Interesting.
At the end, when black lives matter, all lives will matter. Until I can go jogging (#AhmaudArbery), ask a cop a question (#Randy Evans), take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo), or even breathe (#EricGarner) without fearing for my life, I will not have trust in a system that profits off of targeting me and viewing me as a threat. Say their names. No justice. No peace. No racist police.