Scrolling through my Facebook feed on 5th July 2016, I saw a still from a video that looked all too familiar. I did not click on it, not because I did not care, but because I knew what was coming. Sure enough, when I checked the news, the murder of 37 year old Alton Sterling was the lead story.
An hour or so later, Philando Castile’s name started to appear on across my social media timelines and again I knew what was coming. As I logged back into Facebook, every post featured a man with a blood soaked white t-shirt and a pained expression on his face. I could not bring myself to watch the video. I did not need to, as the captions said it all.
Like Mr Sterling, Philando had been shot by a police officer.
These unarmed black fathers were murdered by policemen who claim to ‘protect and serve’. Who were they protecting when they shot Philando in front of his girlfriend and young baby? You take this man’s life and force his daughter to grow up in a fatherless home, and for what? I heard on the news that Philando had been pulled over by the police 52 times, as if this was some type of justification for his death. He did not have a criminal record and anyone with half a brain cell knows that ‘driving while black’ is a fabricated crime regularly enforced by the police.
Who were the officers serving when they when they took down Alton Sterling and shot him multiple times? I know that it has since been reported that he was reaching for a gun. Ok, so even if this was the case, why did they not take the weapon from him while he was pinned to the ground? I find it pretty difficult to believe that this was not an option.
Like Mr Castile, the media were quick to jump on allegations that Alton Sterling had been previously involved in some sort of criminal activity. While I do not condone this, I struggle to find the link between this activity and his murder. However, there are always those who will attempt to manufacture an invidious argument to further their own agenda.
I have two words for you. Tomi. Lahren. I really do not expect much from this ‘commentator’ after her asinine response to Beyoncé’s Formation video (which was amazing by the way – the music video that is). But, the 23 year old somehow managed to sink to a new low when she called the Black Lives Matter Movement “the new KKK”. Seriously? Ms Lahren needs to point me in the direction of the lynchings conducted by the BLM and the white communities that have been terrorised by this group. Oh, there is just one problem with that. None of this has ever happened!
She is only 3 months younger than me and the hatred that radiates through her words is alien to me. I have spent a significant amount of time in the US and spoken to people from all walks of life, but never have I heard such rubbish. More than anything I feel sorry for fools like her.
Then you have the black #AllLivesMatter supporters who have decided to contribute their views to the debate. Wendy Williams, Fetty Wap, Bobby Valentino, Stacey Dash and others have said some things that I cannot get my head around. I do not think that everyone should agree with me or that you should wholeheartedly support the #BlackLivesMatter movement just because you are black. What I do not get, Wendy Williams, is how you can say that you would be offended if historically white colleges existed in the same way as HBCUs. All colleges in America are HBWUs by default due to historical segregation. Has she heard of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)? Actually there was no point in me asking that was there?
Before this develops into a lengthy rant, I want to conclude by bringing the focus back to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I could never begin to imagine the difficulty involved in a police officer’s job and I do not claim to be a law enforcement expert. However, I am a black woman and the pain I witnessed in the tears cried by these gentlemen’s respective families was more than anyone should have to go through.
My thoughts always turn to the fears that I may have for my future black sons and husband, even here in the UK. While white boys are free to mature without harbouring a fear of the police, males of my race are brought up to anticipate discriminatory and, oftentimes violent, encounters with public servants who should be looking out for their best interests. Does that sound like #AllLivesMatter to you?