Thursday, 7 July 2016

Dear America (specifically those of you who respond to the movement "Black lives matter" with "All lives matter"),

This morning as I listened to NPR's newscast, I heard about a fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer and thought it referred to the one that took the life of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge two days ago but it actually referred to Philando Castile in Minnesota just yesterday. 

On my morning commute, I watched the video of the fatal shooting in Minnesota and wept. I tried with all my might not to weep but I couldn't stop myself from sobbing and wiping my tears and sobbing some more. 

It made no sense to me - why would you shoot someone after giving them instructions and them following your instructions? Why would you shoot someone multiple times before assessing whether they are an imminent threat to you? Why would you handcuff their partner who again posed no threat and who remained calm throughout the whole incident which resulted in death of her partner in front of her child? Why would you treat her like a criminal when you should be getting her assistance? I don't understand it! 

And to those who want to sweep these extrajudicial killings under the carpet, let me ask you this - how many more black men and women need to be killed by enforcement officers before you acknowledge that there is a problem? Before you stop this crap about all lives matter knowing full well that your race is not endangered?

As a black foreigner living in America, I am apprehensive about driving around the country as I feel that makes me vulnerable to arbitrary stops by the police that could end up being fatal. I am apprehensive about my husband driving wearing a hood, walking, standing outside a hotel, simply living in full view of armed police officers because who the hell knows what the next reason will be for a black man to be killed. I am apprehensive about my son misbehaving in school, messing around in a playground, being in a certain neighborhood, being the naughty 10 year old he sometimes is, because God knows what could happen in a country that has zero tolerance for black children. 

I am sick and tired of hearing white people, black people who think they're exempt from police brutality try and justify it - he should have taken off his hood, he shouldn't have been out at night, he shouldn't have been selling loose cigarettes, she shouldn't have answered back to that cop, he shouldn't have been playing with a toy gun, he shouldn't have had his music on so loud, he shouldn't have run! These are not valid defences for murder - so stop focusing on the victims and start focusing on the perpetrators. 

Black lives matter because they are endangered - because many people in America do not value them - because many people in America think they can be taken away - because many people in America's justice system believe there should be no accountability for those who kill black men, women and children. 

So let me remind you that Black lives do matter. They matter and we will continue to remind you of this in the hope that it will some day register with not just the killers but also with the apologists.

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