We believe it is necessary to recalibrate the mind of Americans, as it pertains to the kneeling protest. Consider the following the next time the President and others attack protesters and attempt to hijack and convolute the “real” reason. Instead of regurgitating America’s Black experiences, let us pretend the events of recent years are a thick plot for a new narrative.
Story 1: You are a teenager and full of yourself like teenagers so often are. You split your time—though not evenly—between your separated parents. You’re excited today because you’re going to your father’s house, and there is a convenience store in walking distance that sells your favorite iced tea, and they “got that purple bag of skittles for the low.”
You get there, and the first thing you do is tell your father, “Hey, Pops, I’ll be right back. I’m going to the store.” He says it’s cool and tells you to be safe because it’s getting dark.
Headphones on, you start the walk. At the store, you grab your tea and skittles, pay the cashier, and head out. You’re rocking out to your newly made playlist with all the latest and hottest trap music. But as soon as you walk back into your Pops’ neighborhood, you get a scary feeling like you’re being watched.
It’s dark now so you pick up the pace a little. But walking quicker doesn’t ease your nerves, and at this point you’re starting to wonder if there’s something moving in the trees and bushes, after all this is Florida well known for giant snakes and alligators.
You begin to move even quicker. Not only can you hear its steps, but you also can smell its predatory nature. The “something” is moving closer to you. Your heart is racing. But, you are empowered by your youth and turn to face this stalker only to find out it isn’t a predator, or at least, not the cold-blooded reptile you expected. It’s one of your father’s neighbors. You don’t know him, but he is after you as if he knows you or like you’ve stolen or are about steal something.
You are frustrated, thinking to yourself, “Who is this dude?” Suddenly, he grabs you. You fight like you’re fighting for your life because you are! He’s armed. You are not. You never get to drink that tea. Your skittles are never opened. There’s a trial, but your stalker isn’t punished. Says he was afraid…that you attacked him. America, white America, believed him. After all, you’re black and fit the physical description of what society has deemed criminal.
Story 2: You are unemployed, in part, because of the systematic defunding of your community by governmental policies, but knowing this and doing nothing about it isn’t going to feed your children. The politicians on TV are always saying, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You know the people in your neighborhood smoke, a lot. But, cigarettes are expensive.
You come with an idea to make money by selling individual cigarettes to capitalize on this segment of the market. The perfect set up is right outside a convenience store. And, while the business isn’t stock market worthy, it’s better than doing nothing…that is, until the day a police officer decides you will not do business on his beat. This overly zealous cop grabs you and chokes you. While he is choking you, his partners decide it’s best if they grab your arms, screaming, “Put your arms behind your back.”
Everything is happening so fast, and you can’t breathe. You keep saying, “I can’t breathe!” But, you not being able to breathe doesn’t matter. Only your last breath would convince them to release you from this illegal chokehold. You pull air into your lungs for the last time. Your product unsold. The officer who choked you is not punished. After all, you’re black and fit the physical description of what society has deemed criminal.
Story 3: Finally, you’re headed home from work. Long day. Your damn truck quits working. Now you’re sitting in the truck stressed worrying about 1) how the hell are you going to get home, and 2) how much these repairs are going to cost. Rent is due next week, plus you still got to get to work the next day. Could that be a police officer driving up behind you? Hopefully, a jump is all your truck needs.
But, your gratitude is premature. This officer runs up screaming commands. You are dumbfounded, but aware of what’s at stake, you cooperate. Yet, your cooperation isn’t going to satisfy. This officer has been trained to shoot center-mass and you are as black as the targets. Your truck isn’t fixed and your rent is late. There is no punishment. After all, you’re black and fit the physical description of what society has deemed criminal.
Stories 4,5,6, 7, 8…and so on. All progress in pretty much the same way: you leave a store, lay on the ground as commanded, and you are still murdered and the murderer left unpunished.
You are riding in the car with your girl and your child, inform the officer you are exercising your Second Amendment right, still murdered and your murderer unpunished.
You’re allegedly stopped for a traffic violation but the officer wanted you to put out your cigarette, and you refused—as is your right—yet, you wind up dead. And, this is possible because he was afraid. After all, you are black and fit the physical description of what society has deemed criminal.
Let’s suppose, however, that we changed one little fact in these stories. Suppose you were white. The minute we changed that fact we would also have to change what happens to the murderer.
We say, “Stay woke.” And, we are. But, what about those whose eyes are wide shut to our nightmare?
TheVillageCelebration Contributor W. Mondale Robinson collaborated with Richard Wilson on this article. This is the first time these two thinkers have combined their talents on a writing project, but their brotherhood began more than 20 years ago when Wilson became a biologically unrelated, but chosen, big brother and mentor to W. Mondale.