White Apologies & Black Funerals
COVID-19 is not the only thing killing the black community during this pandemic.
Posted May 27, 2020
Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tye Anders, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd are all names we have familiarized ourselves with during this pandemic. As the world is in shambles and everything is on pause, one thing that remains the same is how black lives are viewed. “Here we go with another racial post” might be what crosses your mind especially for those who “don’t see color” but I hope your ego allows you to see this.
In every name I listed above there is some connection to the police. By societal standards, the equation for blacks plus police always equals criminal and/or death. There really is no in-between. Every time a new life is taken or threatened, I remember how fast life altering situations can happen in the matter of seconds.
If you pulled up my resume you would see a profound woman with two degrees, extensive history working with at-risk youth and communities, a former member of prominent national organizations such as the NAACP and National Alliance of Black Social Workers. She traveled to Armenia and did qualitative research on Syrian refugees. If you pulled up my social media, you would see a woman dedicated to her business as an artist, blogger, and graphic designer. Always traveling. She loves her family, boyfriend, and friends who would all describe her as down to earth, caring, and upbeat. Even if you called my professional references, they would acknowledge my accountability as a valuable team member.
However, if you pulled up my criminal background in 2016 you would have found an arrest history with a criminal charge for 2nd degree assault. For those who are not aware, in the state of Maryland a 2nd degree assault is considered a misdemeanor with a conviction subjected up to ten years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. Within seconds everything that was mentioned above meant NOTHING! As far as the system was concerned, I was a criminal. Not just the criminal justice system but any system that conducted a criminal background check like employers and housing. The very first time I got into a physical altercation in my entire life for defending myself resulted in me being placed in handcuffs in the back of a paddy wagon. Reminiscent of the lifeless body of Freddie Gray who was killed a year prior just thirty minutes away from where I was.
So, if you want to talk about fear, we can talk about fear because there is nothing more terrifying than having your life in the hands of the law AND being BLACK! You have a better chance at playing Russian Roulette.
There is nothing more terrifying than having your life in the hands of the law AND being BLACK!
As a young black woman in the middle of getting her master’s degree at the time, I carried a level of privilege and I still do. It was not powerful as white privilege, but the benefits mirrored the same in this situation. I needed saving! So, I did what many fearful whites do and used the little privilege I had to hire an attorney who got my case nolle prosequi and my criminal record expunged. At this point there may be some people ready to call me on a double standard, but I want to emphasize the difference. I did not use my privilege to shed the blood of others, I used it to save my own blood.
I promise you my perspective on the criminal justice system has never been the same since. How could it be? Blacks have a degree of separation too. There are many blacks who cannot afford an attorney like I did let alone pay bond. One name, Kalief Browder. Remember him? Because I can never forget. The system accused him of stealing a book bag at the age of 17. His parents could not afford the $300 bail which ended up being revoked anyway. He was a minor serving unofficial time in Rikers Island (your modern-day Alcatraz) for three years including a year in solitary confinement. The three years he was being held waiting for his hearing just to get to trial and have his case thrown out for no present testimony. He stuck to his truth as an innocent man and refused to plead guilty. By that time, the system failed him so much that two years after his release he took his own life at 22 from enduring never ending trauma and mental illness. All this stemming from a book bag.
These incidents mock the innocence of spilled milk by a toddler but carry the weight of a mass shooter. I take that back because Dylann Roof was detained with a Whopper. I guess when our lives sit at the bottom of the totem pole there are no comparisons.
Amy Cooper’s threat to Christian Cooper (no relation) is no different than Carolyn Donham’s accusation on Emmett Till. Up north we have a saying for that “same shit, different day”. From 1955 to 2020 and it is the same shit but different day. It is as if the white privilege starter pack comes with unlimited apologies that can wash away any sin. These apologies are lifeless as the bodies they originate from. While our apologies are attached to intimidation and actual fear that only carry value off the strength of our freedom being linked to it.
The killing of any black person by a police officer or “neighborhood watch” silently kills us all. The only thing whites must defend themselves on when it comes to their complexion is how they are not racist. Being black means defending everything life has to offer like living in a community, owning a luxury car, wearing our natural hair, and the list never ends.
White apologies and black funerals is not a metaphor by any means. It is reality. The only form of apology that we accept are restitution and convictions. Even then that is not enough because no apology ever brought back the dead.
A post that went viral on Facebook after Ahmaud's murder.
I am attaching the videos of those slain, harassed, and killed by those who misuse fear for hate. As long as I have breathe in me their stories will be told! In situations like this I do not believe in editing, censoring, ignoring the videos. They can hide behind white privilege and apologies, but these videos say otherwise. I encourage anyone to sit through every video. They should be seen for what they are. Yes, it is heartbreaking, upsetting, inhumane, uncomfortable, offensive, and arbitrary. It should make you uncomfortable because no one should be subjected to police brutality.
Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper in Central Park on May 25, 2020
George Floyd killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, MN on May 25, 2020
Tye Anders with Midland Police after he did not stop at a stop sign in Midland, TX on May 18, 2020
Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville Metro Police Dept on March 13, 2020
Ahmaud Arbery was killed while jogging in Glynn County, GA on February 23, 2020