When I was 14 years old in the 1960s, I sat around a kitchen table in the Bronx arguing with my grandfather and an uncle — both elderly — while civil rights marchers and protestors hit the streets calling for equality, fairness, voting rights and an end to police brutality.
I remember feeling anger and frustration as these people, whom I loved and respected, told me that Black people, although that’s not what they called them, were lazy, inferior to whites and had no call to seek equality. I remember another uncle, a much younger relative, telling me that Black people (again, not his words) actually “smelled bad.”
If someone would have told me that more than 50 years later, I would feel that same anger and frustration over continuing discrimination, police brutality, ignorance and hatred, I’d have thought you were nuts.
Yet here I am.
Almost all of those relatives are gone now. But the sheer lunacy of what there were saying persists.
Black people are still the targets of police brutality and white supremacists. And if someone would have told me that this violence and injustice was being stoked by the president of the United States … well, I don’t know what I would have said.
Yet here I am.
Those who don’t believe that we still have a double standard in this country when it comes to police treatment of Black people have only to look around.
On the one hand, we have an unarmed Black man who was posing no apparent threat grabbed by the shirt and shot seven times in the back at point-blank range by a police officer as his three young children watched.
Then we have a white teenager armed with a rifle — an obvious threat — walking down the street after killing two people as the police ignore him and those yelling that he had just shot a couple of human beings.
Could you imagine what the police would have done if that was a Black man carrying that rifle, which, as it turns out, is an illegal act in that particular city?
I don’t think it’s mere speculation that the police would have massacred him where he stood.
So much more can be said about this situation and the threat that Black people feel each and every time they leave their homes. And people much more eloquent and intelligent than I are saying them.
I would have thought that by now, Americans would have set aside their racial hatred and worked to improve our lot — especially during a pandemic.
Yet here we are.
I had to add this image from Reddit.