This is a topic I have avoided tackling for some time now, it’s not an easy topic to tackle because it extremely complex.
I felt it wasn’t fair for me to discuss, since I have been in the states for only 3 years, it really isn’t sufficient time to understand such a complex situation, however with the story of Eric Garner on the news today its extremely difficult not to talk about it or think about race.
I did not realize I was black until I relocated to the states, back home majority of the people are black, off course like humans will do, we might be one color but we are still divided along tribal lines. Well in the states people are divided along racial lines. Eric Garner died after police officers had a choke hold on him, he was a big man, 400 pounds and asthmatic. The whole incident was caught on video and when you watch the video you can actually hear him telling the officers ‘I can’t breath, I can’t breath’ over and over. A part of me wonders if this incident wasn’t caught on camera would it be in the news today. How many other incidents like this occur on a daily basis and since they are not caught on camera they don’t get any attention? What would have happened had it been a white man, how much differently would have the police handled the situation?
When you are born as a black man in this country, you come into the world with two strikes against you. The percentage of black men in jail, percentage of people with health issues including Aids in the black community and the terrible state of public schools in black neighborhoods is enough for you to wonder, do black people really have a fair chance in this country. I have seen it in the media on black movies and black TV shows and have also heard it on radio. When you bringing up a young black man, you need to have what is called ‘the talk’ with him, this talk is when you explain to your young man how to interact with police officers, as a black man the likely hood of being pulled over is 3 times higher than a white man. In this talk you explain to him that he should not talk back to the police officers, he needs to cooperate with them and not make any sudden movements, he needs to appear harmless, because they will look for any excuse to attack him.
You could tell Eric Garner was familiar with the talk because he shows the officers his hands and explains to them that he doesn’t want any trouble. I saw one comment on the video saying it was like a pack of lions surrounding a zebra, that exactly how it felt but no one would have thought it would result in his death.
After you have been incarcerated, your chances of having a life after that are over. First of all you’re voting rights are limited, meaning you can’t make a change in your community, you are denied equal access to employment, housing, education and much more.
Before I got to understand the complexity of this situation, it was very easy to dismiss black people as being lazy and wanting a free ride, but on closer observation and having experienced life as one I now realize black people are already set up for failure from the beginning. How are men supposed to learn how to be men when they are raised by single mothers, how are women supposed to be well rounded when they don’t know their fathers, how are women supposed to find husbands when a majority of young men is in jail, how are people supposed to make a decent income when they can’t find decent employment or can’t start business because banks won’t lend them money?
Like I said, there so many layers to this topic and all I have done is scrap a little of the top surface, but mainly I just want to provoke thought.