Optimism and hope is what keeps Black people alive and moving forward in America. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of defining moments where we see concrete progress happening. I define concrete progress as laws passed and money invested in changing the situation for poor people, particularly poor Black people in the United States. We continue to elect Black men and women to political positions all across the country but we continue to witness terrorism on the streets. I can’t think of another way to describe the treatment of the Gilliam family in Aurora, Colorado except to call it terrorism. When I watch the video of a woman and her younger relatives - four children - being made to line facedown on the asphalt of a parking lot. They are all screaming and crying in fear. The youngest was 6 years old.
How and why does this happen all over the country. Part of it is the training and culture of police departments – large and small. The other part is baseline fear of Black people and the impunity with which police officers are allowed to operate. Lastly, and sadly it is because most of the officers do not have the courage to use common sense. Clearly the family group in the video posed no threat to the officers or the general public. This was established and the number of police present precluded them being over powered by the children. So why on earth did they need to be required to lay face down and handcuffed. The same inquiry or arrest if necessary could have been carried out without terrorizing them all.
I use the phrase, “courage to use common sense” because I understand that increasingly employees of large organizations are not allowed to make judgement calls. They are told to follow the policies and directives without deviation. In the case of the Aurora Police, they simply appear to not see Black people as people. Again, we are seen as criminals first. The age and gender is irrelevant. Because we are criminals we are fair game for any and all tactics including the terrorization of entire families or entire communities.
In Aurora, you see the police milling around and watching as if they have dangerous felons at gunpoint. One officer recognizes what is being done is wrong but refuses to change the situation. Why? This is unacceptable and cannot continue to be tolerated. We must defy this type of behavior wherever we find it. Recording the video is good. We must have a record. The rest of the citizens but demand on the spot that the situation be handled differently. Ultimately, we – the citizens – are in charge and responsible for the actions of our law enforcement officers.
I have visited Colorado Springs and Aurora several times on business over the past twenty years. Overall, I’ve spent about a 6 weeks in the area. My impression, even before the most recent incidents of police brutality, was that this was one of the Whitest places in America culturally speaking. They appear to be educated and pretty neutral when you interact with regular folks on the street and in stores. Increasingly, we find that the entrenched racial hierarchy in America creates this sense of fear and loathing of Black people by most White people even when they may see themselves as racially neutral or even liberal.
Otherwise how can one explain the treatment of Elijah McClain, 23 years old, in Aurora, Colorado on August 24 in 2019. He was stopped on the street because he had a face mask on while he was walking home all alone. Had his ear pods in listening to music. He was stopped by police, put into a chock hold, sedated by an emergency medical technician, had a heart attack as a result, and died days later after he was pronounced brain dead. The officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave. Several months later on November 22 the district attorney announced that no charges would be made against the police officers involved. Again, he was approached and treated as a criminal without ever doing any criminal or suspicious act except for the fact his skin was black.
Optimism and hope is what keeps Black people alive and moving forward in America. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of defining moments where we see concrete progress happening. I define concrete progress as laws passed and money invested in changing the situation for poor people, particularly poor Black people in the United States. We continue to elect Black men and women to political positions all across the country but we also continue to witness terrorism on the streets.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear