It Has Not Been A Good Week In Or For America » VSB

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It Has Not Been A Good Week In Or For America

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It has not been a good week in or for America.

In a little over 72 hours, two Black men from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, have been murdered by the police, and last night, in Dallas, Texas, snipers took aim at the police during a peaceful protest over the first two killings. Five police officers were killed and several more were wounded.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

I’ve mourned privately and discussed publicly the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I’ve experienced outrage, pain, and despair. I watched both videos of Alton Sterling’s death and the second one forced me into a physical reaction. Watching a man’s last breath escape his body is something that nobody should ever have to see. Seeing it on video was harrowing and difficult. Watching Lavish Reynolds describe in great detail the events that occurred and observing her go through roughly every possible emotion a person in her situation could go through hurt. We’re all hurting over the continued preying of America on the Black community, and particularly the Black men that the police seem to believe are all criminals.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

Last night, as I lay in my bed asleep, my son woke me up by kicking me in the back. I looked at my phone and saw notification after notification from every news outlet about shootings in Dallas and the fact that police officers were killed. My heart dropped because I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the media would shift the entire conversation back to this mythical open season on police, who are experiencing the safest year on record for police ever. And sure enough, the non-sense sparked with news headlines that are linking what happened in Dallas to September 11th; marking it as the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11. And that correlation is patently ridiculous.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

What has happened in Dallas is a terrible tragedy, without equivocation. Allegedly the shooter that was killed said that he intended to kill white people, especially police officers. Taking aim at police officers does not help the problem. But I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t understand that mentality, even if I don’t agree with it. When you see and hear that your community is constantly under siege by the very people sworn to protect and are given authority to use whatever force can be deemed justifiable, necessary, or reasonable after the fact, its not hard to see how a person being fed up, or a group of militaristic individuals can just decide to go ham and exact some sort of revenge. To be clear, I’m not condoning it, but I do understand. Sometimes, extreme times cause people to go to extreme measures.

I will never forget that interview with Tupac Shakur explaining how poor people would eventually rise up. The gist was that if poor people see rich people throwing food around in an apartment they’d knock first and ask for food. Eventually those knocks would get more aggressive as the condition got worse, leading up to the point where in the worst of worst times, there’s no more knocking. There’s going to be furniture moving. Every oppressed class reaches a breaking point at the hands of the oppressor. And believe you me, the Black community, especially us Black males, feel a way about the police. I do not trust the police. As an individual a cop can be a good person, but as an institution, fuck the police.

Despite what mainstream publications and talking heads can’t seem to understand or more accurately, refuse to acknowledge, the relationship between the police and communities of color has always been stressed and likely always will be. There’s no trust and that comes from the police assuming that we’re all criminals. The deaths of so many young Black men for doing nothing more than living, no matter how old or young proves that. To the police, my life is a crime. I approach every interaction with the police that way.

Last September, after leaving a bar with some of my friends, I dropped one of my boys off at Union Station in DC so that he could catch the train home. I apparently had a tail light out and was stopped by the police. I did what I always do. Clearly stated that my hands were on the steering wheel and let him know, when asked for my identification, I was reaching for my wallet. This bastard ass cop had the nerve to think that I was over-reacting and went the extra mile to tell me that I watched too much television. My response? Maybe you don’t watch enough. He let me go with a warning and the whole time I’m thinking, thank God that didn’t end the way it absolutely could have as I’ve been known to have a bit of a temper with police. I’ve calmed down a lot, for my own good.

Nobody should feel that way about interacting with the police over a routine traffic stop. But here we go again, Black man living is a crime enough to result in death. We’re all tired and fed up. And it’s sad that these instances result in more death, especially for police officers, who despite my lack of trust, I do realize have a thankless job. I don’t believe dead cops are the answer. It’s sinister and disgusting to think that it is. All we want is equal treatment. I don’t want to worry about dying because my tail light is out. But I do.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

We’re tired of hashtags being the lasting legacy of so many in our community. We’re tired of the majority community not acknowledging an apparent problem with the way those in authority deal with communities of color. We’re tired of our lives literally being up for grabs if a person with the authority to use a gun who shouldn’t have one in the first place, loses his cool, then being exonerated because of the extent for which the police, who investigate themselves, will go to justify a police officer’s actions.

I have three little children, two of which are young Black boys who will grow into Black men. I hate that while I have every hope and optimism for their lives that I know the same thing that every Black person knows: I will have to have a conversation with them about dealing with the police and it will not be one that says the police are to be trusted and that you will get the benefit of the doubt. It will be the conversation that all Black men have to have with their kids about making every encounter with police as short as possible. Only answer questions that are asked and make sure that they don’t think you are being aggressive. Curse them out once they are gone, but living is more important than being in the right.

I’m pissed that the media is making comparisons to 9/11 because to conflate what those people in Dallas did to what the terrorists who stole planes and flew them into buildings did just doesn’t compute. It’s not the same thing. They’re all criminals. But somehow making 9/11 seem like an attack on law enforcement and then paralleling the two is irresponsible and dangerous. The news media outlets need to do better. There are a lot of hurting people, some are now the families of police officers, but many of us who aren’t have been hurting for centuries at the hands of those in power. I’m not happy police officers are dead, but there tend to be very few officers showing much in the way of sympathy for the death their fellow fraternity members have caused.

I want peace. I want calm. But there’s a storm right now and contrary to how it will be presented to the American public, it’s one of the police’s doing. Those of us in the Black community have been complaining about policing forever, and now that we have continued camera footage that is showing the things we’ve been complaining about, it should call into question many reports and deaths. It is a public health issue that the entire country should be concerned about. The loss of any of our citizens is a loss to the nation as a whole in productivity and progress. But that’s not the story that will be presented. That’s not what many people see.

They see another Black man down and see another criminal out of the picture. A cop gets shot and he’s a hero who lost his life to the criminals. The disconnect is surreal. The fact that police want us to view individual actions as just that but then want to blame individual actions on a movement intended to get equality just speaks further to that disconnect. It feels very hopeless, like a penny with a hole in it.

It has not been a good week in or for America.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • MsCee

    Its such a sad day here in Dallas the city I love the city I was born and raised in. Its sad because white ppl I work with daily were radio silent up until yesterday, its sad because innocent people have died and its even more sad that the facts that they are giving us here in the DFW just do not add up. No one knew much about the protest until yesterday morning but somehow snipers were able to figure out the protest route and execute this elobarate plan in less than 24 hours time. Wow.

    • miss t-lee

      I’m in Austin, our local ABC affiliate was running the news feed from WFAA last night. You’re right…lots of things did not seem to be adding up.

      • “You’re right…lots of things did not seem to be adding up.”

        Like the shooters being organized enough to set up a kill box.

        • miss t-lee

          Really. That sounds mad organized for an impromptu peaceful protest.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          How could one day be enough to plan a systematic kill box during an impromptu peace demonstration?

          They really think we are that stupid that we wouldn’t question this.

  • miss t-lee

    Your last paragraph said so much. Hang in, there.
    Shout out to Dionne Farris.

    • Have the local media released any real information about the shooters yet?

      • miss t-lee

        As of a bit ago, they were still being vague. Except for the guy who got dragged through the mud as a “person of interest”.

        • I see they were trying to hem that guy up until he turned himself in and video of him running away from the shooting like a sane person surfaced.

          • miss t-lee

            Yup. However, they still have this photo up on their twitter page, and it’s been picked up by all major news outlets. A freakin’ mess.

      • L8Comer

        There’s a name, and I’m seeing a pic float around to match Micah Xavier Johnson. Not sure I wanna post it, cuz that could be many people’s name

        • miss t-lee

          Ah! I hadn’t seen that. Thanks.

          • L8Comer

            Look at twitter, they have all the news first.

            • miss t-lee

              Oh, I’m there. I just haven’t been trusting much, especially after I saw how they dropped dudes photo last night…and proceeded to run with it.

              • kingpinenut

                Stay safe out there Miss T

                • miss t-lee

                  You too mayne!

        • miss t-lee

          I just saw this pic of him over on twitter.

  • Aly

    I’ve been crying off and on for the past two days. After finding out about the Dallas officers, nothing. I’m not angry or sad. I feel absolutely nothing. That lack of sympathy for the police is what this country has created in me. The officers didn’t deserve to die, but their killers will be/have been brought to justice. Where’s our justice?

    • Jay

      I agree. I feel a lot of things but sympathy for the police officers shot in Dallas is not one of them. Just being honest.

      • Aly

        Another thing people should realize is that lack of sympathy is not the same thing as a call for violence.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Indeed it isn’t. It just means our tears won’t shed for them. Doesn’t mean we want their blood to shed instead.

        • agreed. i woke up and saw the headline and went right back to sleep.

    • Val

      It’s not healthy to care about people who don’t care about you. The police en mass in this country have shown time and time again with their actions and their words that they don’t give a fcuk about us. So, yeah, I’m not feeling anything either.

      • I, literally, felt nothing.. and the black chief crying only made me wonder if he cried for those brothers.

        • Mary Burrell

          Negra I am here in the city and they have screaming for the Black police chief resignation for quite a while now. When he was installed everyone was hyped thinking things would change and the department would be fair to the Black citizens here because he grew up in the hood here. It’s the white officers who want him out and the Black officers saying the whites are conspiring against him. It’s crazy in City Hall.

          • I could believe it!

            • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

              Me too.

          • Overtymem Usicradio

            Do you live in Dallas?

        • Mochasister

          Probably not. I am not happy that those police officers lost their lives. I feel sorry for their families and friends. Other than that I feel pretty blah. I know that when police officers die everything possible is done to find the perpetrator and bring him or her to justice. I don’t see that same zeal when officers are shooting unarmed citizens.

      • Janelle Doe

        My tears are fresh for the families of the many left behind with questions and no video footage of what it could have been if escalation and excessive force were not our norm. I feel for both traumatic sets of events and know that only one set has clear repercussions for the offenders.

    • chazb

      How can we feel sympathy when they don’t care about our deaths? When we die its deserved in some way but when they die it is somehow sacred.

      • Blueberry01

        Preach.

  • PinkRose

    We see you, VSB on CNN/Wolf Blitzer’s show this morning!

  • KNeale

    I am not in a good spot man. My first thought after hearing about Dallas was that whoever did it just did Black people everywhere a great disservice. For a multitude of reasons. This is a storm like you said PJ, but unfortunately the truth will be washed away. Those cops will (if they haven’t already) get justice. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, will not. And this event will be construed as a “war” as “two way”. Calls for “peace” will undoubtedly be a call for black people to let go, submit, calm down, etc. I’m not articulating myself well because I’m heavy and stressed with the trauma and the anger.

    • chazb

      I feel you so much. It becomes this narrative in which we are supposed to believe that we need to settle down and stop asking to be treated fairly. That in the asking we somehow have caused this violence. We are free but only when that freedom suits those who have power over us. It’s all so ridiculous that I go between being angry and wanting to cry.

  • Jay

    Your encounter with the cop was interesting. Im sure he had no ill will and was doing his job by the book so your reaction to him was fairly laughable (…to him). But to you as a black man it was different. You had and have to take precaution because you never know when you’re in a situation with a trigger happy cop so the sh*t was FAR from amusing to you. It’s better to look like an overreacting idiot and make it home alive smh.

    • panamajackson

      Worst part is, it was a Black cop. That’s what irritated me more.

      • RaeNBow

        Law enforcement officers (regardless of their race) are conditioned to approach Black men and boys with a heightened level of scrutiny and skepticism. They are more likely to see a Black male as guilty right away and less likely to give black males any benefit of the doubt.

        When I see Black officers succumb to this and perpetuate it, i am forever BAFFLED. because if they are ever off duty, and approached by a white officer, they’d be heLLa upset with how “blue treats Black” …but when they wear blue, they are so somfortable being an extension of other folks’ racial bias. smh

      • kingpinenut

        Don’t make me quote Jess B. Simple bruh….

  • Mortal Man

    I’m not with the statements of revolutionary violence or “chickens coming home to roost.” Black folk- resist the impulse to become what you hate. Resist the impulse to cry for joy when those five officers breathed their last breath. I understand blood cries for blood. But you have a choice as to whether or not you are going to listen to it.

    • panamajackson

      You know, I was very careful with not saying it was deserved. Cuz I dont think it was. I’m saying I understand the mentality. It’s sad that it even comes to the point where I can say “i get it”

      • Mortal Man

        It’s a fine balance between feeling sympathy for the devil and choosing to use his tools to do work.

        Ultimately, though, it’s a period of time where people- including myself- just aren’t in a state to listen well and will latch on to whatever red meat strikes their fancy in your writing. Sorry for overreacting.

        • Question

          Is it really *that* fine a balance? Is it not a balance that has become part of the daily life and ethos of being Black in America?

          • Mortal Man

            It is. Most black folk feel radical anger and express it without picking up stones and such. I feel that if we plunge over the edge, nothing will change.

            I say that knowing that few has changed. But we have gone from being in chains to be segregated to here. We have to keep working.

            • Question

              I agree with you – I guess my point was that I don’t think the edge is that subtle because most of us live it everyday. We react understandably with emotion and anger, and somehow manage to intermingle those emotions with what is required of us in order to survive and maintain (and thrive?) on a daily basis…

        • Blueberry01

          It may not exactly be the devil in this. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” -Proverbs 13:12

          Some people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

    • LeeLee

      “resist the impulse to become what you hate.”
      MAJOR key! This is hard in the flesh, but the right thing for the spirit.

    • Oluseyi

      Chickens coming home to roost has nothing to do with hate, though. It is simply a statement of consequences for action—or inaction. The combination of persistent police brutality; sanctioned extra-judicial killings by the US security apparatus; flagrant denials, lies and justifications thereof; and citizen video exposing it logically created a powder keg of violent potential. What happened in Dallas is a tragedy, but in many was a predictable one. Them chickens came home to roost.

  • L8Comer

    Yo, DAmon is on CNN! I was letting it stream in the background and then somethng made me tune in when i heard a different voice, and what do i see

    • miss t-lee

      you have a link handy?

      • L8Comer

        Nah, I don’t cuz its my xfinity account, but he’s off now. We’ll see if he gets back

        • miss t-lee

          Gotcha. I’m sure I’ll catch a vid. Thx. :)

        • YeaSoh

          That’s awesome! What happen? What did he say?

          • L8Comer

            I kinda caught the tail end of it and then came back here to let people know to tune in, and shortly after that he was gone. But he basically seemed to be speaking about the feelings, fears, concerns, of the black community. I wish i had heard the rest. As soon as I find a video ill post it.

            SN: Thanks to VSB for keeping the trolls at bay yesterday. I know they musta been in these e-streets making constantly keeping it a safe place for us.

    • kingpinenut

      Hold up how L8Comer gonna be right on time?!?!?!!!

      Shyte, I been up and done missed cnn :/

      • L8Comer

        lolol, idk what made me turn to that tab on my computer, idk his voice at all. it just stood out against all the others. So funny, I was on here and clicked over and was like damn, came back to let u guys know, turned back and he was gone. I wanna see more. Where’s the link DAymoan?

  • PinkRose

    I cried today for the first time, for the ALL the victims of murder this week, BOTH the unarmed Black men AND the police officers. I’ve had a lot of interactions with both Dallas PD and DART PD and I have a ton of respect for the work they’ve done in the Dallas community.

  • Sparger

    None of this makes sense. I don’t actually believe the police accounts of what the dead sniper said. Of course besides being a murderer he is also an awful liar. Cop say 4 snipers positioned on roof tops. Dead guy says he is alone and upset about black lives matter and wants to kill white cops. Cops have 3 people in custody and aren’t releasing their names.

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