By Larisa McBean
February 9, 2016:
The recent police killing of Mario Woods in San Francisco is another display of the excessive use of force by police officers against black boys and men. A black man with a knife not raised at you can be apprehended without a firing squad closing in on him and riddling his body with bullets. If you can apprehend white serial killers, like the one who went into a church and murdered nine black people in Charleston, or in Newtown, without harming them, then you can apprehend a black man with no plausible way of harming you.
If armed white men can lay siege on a federal building with no standoff for weeks, you can apprehend a black man without killing him. But you get away with it so you continue to do it. When these things happen, and they happen too regularly to keep count and name all the names, we [Black people] get all up in our feelings. But it happens so often that it has become the norm and we don’t get all up in our feelings enough.
But when we do get all up in our feelings, there are those white persons who make comments like: “why did he resist?”, when a black man keeps shouting, “I can’t breathe!” until he takes his last breath, held down and choked by police officers; “why did he run?”, when a black man or boy runs and gets shot in the back; “why didn’t s/he comply?”, when a police officer tries to make a request and a black woman asserts her right to not comply, which is not illegal.
The only questions left to ask are: “why do you look suspicious?”, because every black person looks suspicious, like they just committed a crime; and “why do you exist?”, because existing makes black people look suspicious and therefore makes us a target. If we comply, don’t resist, don’t run, then the police will stop suspecting us of doing something wrong. But we’re suspicious by virtue of the fact that we exist, so don’t exist, black people. Stop existing!
The above-mentioned scenarios don’t seem to shock these white people. For every time we shout #Blacklivesmatter, they shout back #Alllivesmatter, to silence our audacity to declare that we do in fact matter, contrary to what four hundred years of white oppression led us to believe – that our lives don’t matter, that they didn’t matter, that we were not human, therefore we were seen as chattel, and Guinea pigs, and alligator fodder, and zoo attractions, and the main event for after-church picnics and Sunday matinées by trees featuring black bodies hung and burned, followed by bidding wars for black skins to take home and hang on walls next to boar heads and stags like prized game.
This has been normal for you, so police officers shooting a fourteen year old boy at a park mere seconds after arriving at the scene doesn’t rattle you because black bodies have always been fair game to be chased and whipped and chopped and lynched and shot and raped. But now that we have ‘equal rights’ under the law, you can’t do these things anymore, so the law does it for you.
None of the above rattles your sensitivities. What rattles you, on the other hand, is a video of a black woman making social commentary from an influential platform with: “stop shooting us”. It is the cry for justice that makes you uncomfortable and offended and threatening boycotts. The desecration of black bodies does not make you blink twice, but shouting “Justice for Mario Woods” in protest against the excessive use of force by police officers has you all up in your feelings. Because all this upsets the status quo.
“Don’t think, just sing and dance!”
“No, don’t run!”
“That’s far enough!”
“I said higher!”
“Say something, I’m talking to you!”
“That’s just stupid!”
“You’re too loud!”