Trayvon Martin, February 5, 1995-February 26, 2012
Eric Garner, September 15, 1970-July 17, 2014
Michael Brown, May 20, 1996-August 9, 2014
Tamir Rice, June 25, 2002-November 22, 2014
All, two black teenagers, one black man, one black young man, died during encounters with agents acting in the name of law enforcement.
On March 18, 2015, Martese Johnson, a 20-year old, University of Virginia student, was beaten and bloodied during an arrest outside of a Charlottesville bar at the hands of state alcohol control agents.
I hasten to say that I honor the courageous and conscientious service of those called and committed to respect for fair laws and the security and safety of all citizenry.
As swiftly and sadly I must say that I am horrified…
That race relations remain low on the America agenda of things that matter…
That some (and I stress “some,” not all), I will assume, well-meaning folk of whatever color still refer to the above tragedies as “incidents.” For me, this descriptor infers that such deaths and assaults have an immediate circumstantial or individual situational character. That these events are rare or, at very least, uncommon. That those who bore the brunt of the tribulation had a hand in their suffering. That had they acted differently “it” wouldn’t have happened. All this rather than looking at these “incidents” and seeing (and if not able to see, then, at very least, to perceive the possibility of) a pattern of innate discriminatory disregard for people of color that is as true and sorrowfully to date as interminable a trait of our national ethos, our countrywide way of being, as anything else – pick one: the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the dynamic pragmatism of rugged Western individualism, “truth, justice, and the American way,” Mom and apple pie, or “the good ol’ red, white, and blue.”
The deaths of Martin, Garner, Brown, and Rice have launched or rather re-launched a civil rights movement seeking to address, seeking redress of generations of civic blind indifference and conscious contempt for the recognition and observance of universal human dignity. One of the clarion calls is black lives matter. In response, my heart and mind, my soul and spirit declare, Really! In my witness, so far, of the reactions of most (and I stress “most,” not all) in authority, I inquire, Really?