These police shootings of unarmed black men are modern-day lynchings. Like the brown and black bodies that swung from trees throughout the south, the lifeless, blood-stained, bodies slumped over our state highways and city streets send the same message: “Stay In Your Place.”
This is a very potent message and with each re-playing of the video-killings, the oppressor hopes that fear rather than courage will be the emotion that grips you. They want you consumed with how to keep your daughter, your son, your brother, your husband, your father from becoming a hashtag. They want that fear to consume you until rather than question the system that produces trigger-happy police, you will question the victim.
The media will help you by searching the victim’s past in hopes to find a record of some sort so you can unconsciously begin to distance yourself from the victim because he or she had a prior record or prior mental instability.
If that doesn’t work, you will become consumed with dialogue instructing you how to respond when stopped by the police. It will seem harmless of course and because you are afraid, you won’t notice that the same instructions being given to you to survive are the same instructions given to black people to survive the lynching era: “Do not talk back. Keep your hands where they can see them. Do not become hostile or appear angry. No sudden movements. Say “yes, sir” and “yes mam”.
To top it off, there will be no convictions. The videos will swing from post to post…from tree to tree, but there will be no convictions and the fear will be so palpable by this time that fighting the system will seem futile, hopeless, ridiculous. So rather than fight the system, you fight yourself. You struggle with your blackness and wrestle with your God-given desire to be seen as a fully, free individual. You question your DNA, your ancestry, your upbringing, your community, but you never question the system because FEAR demands your attention and prevents you from seeing the truth. FEAR demands that you criticize the Black Lives Matter movement for having the sheer audacity to fight. FEAR demands that you assimilate to whiteness rather than appreciate your blackness. FEAR demands servitude and you become chained to self-improvement: “If I just get another degree, make more money, live in that neighborhood, marry her skin instead of my skin, articulate instead of ebonicize, post a picture with my white friends underneath the hashtag, #alllivesmatter, maybe, just maybe I will be seen as worthy.”
It’s exhausting fighting FEAR. Most people succumb to it. They inhale and exhale it with their words. They pass it on to their children ensuring the next generation will have to fight the same fight of FEAR rather than success.
Hangings, Videos, Trees, Asphalt, Lynch-mobs, Police, Nooses, Guns, Blood, Tears, Silence.
Don’t let fear win. Fight.