Let me begin by saying that the death of any person at the hands of any other person, is unthinkable. The death of anyone at the hands of an individual whose duty is to protect and defend, be they neighborhood watch or police is unbearable. The killing of a person that happens in part or in total because of who they are, what they look like, or what they believe is nearly unforgivable.
I cannot say whether or not the death of Michael Brown was unthinkable or unforgivable. I know what I’ve read, seen, heard and felt. I know what history tells me and I know what statistics say, but I also have seen what the law says. Or at least, I’ve seen the justice system function. Flawed system or not, Darren Wilson is a free man, while Michael Brown is dead. I read an article recently where police in Iceland fatally shot a suspect for the first time in the (brief) history that Iceland has been Independent. to be clear, it was the first time. EVER.
This is not a post about just Michael Brown. It’s not even about police brutality. It’s about compassion and understanding. The list of names of unarmed people of color shot and killed by police grows every day. A friend of mine said to me recently that he is beginning to come to terms with the fact that his death may come at the hands of police. He’s not a murderer. He’s not a criminal. He’s not even a bad person. He’s a sweet and intelligent soul who recognizes that the beautiful shade of brown he wears is not just skin, it’s a weapon. It’s not melanin, it’s a crime. No matter what he does, he will always be black, and the way society tells it, black will never be good enough.
Unless, you’re Beyonce. Everybody loves Beyonce.
But if Black skin is a weapon, it’s an assault rifle, and police are scared. No one deserves to die. Not hoodie-wearing teens, not jaywalkers, not people whose child support is overdue, and not children. You can put the names with the stories. I don’t have to, because you know who they are. But for every name you know, there are 15 more you don’t. and the problem is always the same. Skin color, yes. But more than that, it’s about compassion. Whatever happened to loving people? Whatever happened to respect? Listening to Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman talk in the aftermath of their respective killings is sickening. Not because of my feelings on the content, but because of my feelings about people. Whether on purpose or by mistake or by “necessity,” the thing that is missing is remorse or sadness for another human being. All life is valuable. When we remember that, maybe we’ll be able to have honest conversations about crime and prison in this country. And perhaps that will give us an opportunity to focus on people instead of prejudice and compassion instead of capitalism. Everyone has something to offer the world, and everyone deserves the chance to give their gifts.
There is something in everyone that the world needs.