Black Lives Don't Matter In The United States

Black Lives Don't Matter In The United States

We reduce victims of violence to nothing to hide from our own shame
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This past week has been exhausting.

It started with the decision reached on Tuesday that Philando Castile’s killer would be walking free as he was not found guilty of even one count against him.

This is the same Philando Castile of whom there is video, not released to the public until after the trial, complying calmly and politely with the officer before getting shot with not one, not two, not three, but four fatal bullets. He bled out to death at the wheel of his car in front of his girlfriend and a 4-year-old child.

This is the same Philando Castile whose girlfriend proceeded to film herself on Facebook Live as she was being screamed at by the officer who had just callously ended her best friend’s young life right in front of her. She continued to speak to the officer with a level of calmness and respect, even ending every truncated remark with “sir," though the supposedly trained officer did not offer her the same level of respect.

This is also the same Philando Castile who worked with hundreds of children at his school and who had developed wonderful relationships with many of them.

The is the same Philando Castile to whom one of the children wrote a heart wrenching, emotionally devastating letter. It started, “This year I was going to give you a gift but then you dided but I’m giving you a gift anyway!”

The letter continued, “You hade the bigest heart ever I rlly miss you. I rlly rlly miss you. Your the best lunchman we could ever have I wish you were alive. You have rainbows in your heart!” [sic].

As if all of this wasn't enough, another acquittal also occurred recently, this time of (now-fired) officer Dominque Heaggan-Brown who shot and killed Sylville Smith.

The encounter, captured on bodycam, started with a gun-wielding Smith running from Brown. As he attempted to hop a fence, Smith was shot once and fell to the ground. He had thrown his gun over the fence before attempting the jump.

No one disputes that this was a justified shot. What happened next, however, is a reminder of the callousness with which we treat the lives of those who are being pursued by the cops. After being shot once, and falling to the ground, Smith, now unarmed, was shot again, this time fatally in the chest, just 1.69 seconds later.

Smith was just 23-years-old. His family was in tears as they watched their loved one die on video at the trial.

Finally, in my hometown of Cincinnati, the trial over the killing of Samuel Dubose ended in another hung jury and another mistrial. This time, jurors deliberated into their fifth day and were still unable to reach a decision.

In this case, there was also bodycam video and it is inexplicable, in my opinion, how any juror could come to the conclusion that the actions taken by Ray Tensing were justifiable. He shot and killed Samuel Dubose and later lied about having been dragged by Dubose’s car.

All of this was for the simple “crime” of not having a front license plate, a “crime” of which I and millions of other people are guilty, a crime which Tensing’s lawyer said during closing arguments made people “fair game for police.”

Many people across the country are, rightfully, outraged by the inherent injustices of these cases, particularly the murder of Philando Castile.

But these cases, as abhorrent as they are, do not reflect a malice or hatred present within the officers involved. These are not “bad apple” cases. Instead, they reflect a widespread callousness and uncaring with which we treat people pursued by the police and lack of importance we place on their bodies, lives, hopes, and dreams. To police departments, to juries, to us, they are nothing.

I do not think that any of the officers in the above shootings, nor in most of the police killings widely publicized over the last few years, were killing out of malice or hatred. I do not think they set out to be a cop in the hopes of killing someone, of watching the life drain from someone’s eyes.

In the videos showing the last moments of Castile and Dubose's lives, you can see and hear the distress present in the officers after firing their shots. In fact, Castile’s shooting officer screams “FUCK!”

What we see instead are officers who are not properly trained and who do not think of the people in front of them as people, but rather as threats, as criminals, as things to be controlled. Only after they are dead do we learn their names. Only after they are dead do we learn and care that they are fathers, sons, brothers, friends, husbands, neighbors, and beloved members of communities.

Cases of police brutality get the most coverage in the media, but State-sponsored violence occurs after arrests, too.

It happens when cops and guards beat prisoners. It happens with a wanton lack of regard for the mental health of people in jails, just awaiting their release on bail or awaiting a trial because they can’t afford bail.

It happened with a man who was kept in a jail cell awaiting trial. He had not even been convicted of a crime, and yet he was deprived of food and water for 7 days before he was found dead from dehydration. The sheriff of that department was not fired or even rebuked. Instead, he’s been given national security clearance.

Much can be said about the legality of many of these cases, whether the cops involved met the base legal barrier for being found not guilty. What cannot be argued, however, is whether these people, these human beings, deserved to die.

People have been killed over things as minute and inconsequential as a turn signal, playing with a toy gun, or “adjusting his pants.”

Something is clearly wrong with the system when these events become less tragic and instead more embedded everyday reality.

There have been so many lives cut short, so many relationships destroyed, so many dreams destroyed, and so much potential unrealized.

Black lives don't matter, at least not here, not in the United States. When black people die at the hands of police or through other means of State-sponsored violence, they become mere statistics. Their lives, once vibrant and complex, full of relationships and aspirations the same as any of us, become reduced to one event. An event in which they had zero control over what happened to them.

We reduce them to nothing because it makes it easier to justify their deaths, to make it out like nothing is wrong with our precious system, with our precious country. We reduce them to nothing to soothe our collective shame.

Cover Image Credit: Darren Ornitz

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Everything You Need To Know About The New Abortion Ban In Several States

DISCLAIMER: the following does not include any of my personal beliefs/opinions.

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Abortion has and will always be a controversial and very sensitive topic for all genders. The following article delves into the details about the Alabama abortion ban that was signed to be a law which, if it passes, will be in effect January 2020 and briefly touches on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

In 1973, Roe v. Wade 410 was passed in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In short, this ruled that the Due Process Clause along with the 14th Amendment in the Constitution would work to give pregnant women the choice to choose whether or not they wanted an abortion AND should coincide with the government's personal agenda to protect the health of all who is involved. What I mean by this is that the Supreme Court decided during the second trimester of a pregnancy, abortions would be allowed. But, if it is the third trimester, abortion is to be prohibited unless the health of the mother is in danger. This law catapulted the abortion debate which is still going on today.


Abortion vs. Alabama

Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, signed off on a bill that will basically ban all abortions, including rape, incest, any abnormality, and if the mother's life is in danger on May 14, 2019 after acquiring approval from 25 Senators . This could be a problem considering that it very much contradicts Roe v. Wade (1973). To Ivey, the bill is a reflection of the values in which the citizens of Alabama believe: all life is precious and a gift from God.


Governor of the State of Alabama, Kay Ivey (pictured above). home.bt.com

The governor of Georgia also signed a bill to ban abortion after detecting the slightest heartbeat which is approximately around the six-week pregnancy period (around the time most women discover that they are pregnant). Another important take on this is that despite the rift and debate that is going on between Democrats and Republicans, most Republicans believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This is looking more like a possibility considering most of the Supreme Court consists of people who support the Republican party. In short, the main idea is to ban abortion in all of the United States, not just in some states like it is currently. In regards to Alabama, the bill still has not been enacted into a law and could possibly encounter delay in the Supreme Court because, after all, this is a very debated topic. For now, abortion is still legal until January 2020 or when it becomes a law.

Conditions of the Abortion Law

The conditions of the abortion law explicitly states that abortion during any stage of a pregnancy is prohibited and if any medical professional aids in the practice/procedure of an abortion, they will face up to 99 years in prison. If an attempt is made to perform an abortion procedure, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women who successfully get an abortion or attempt to will be prosecuted as well. However, only those who provide another with an abortion will be punished in Alabama, not the one receiving the service.

No form of abortion is allowed including: rape, incest, life-threatening abnormality, or putting the life of the mother in danger.


Alabama expected to approve controversial abortion bill www.youtube.com


Two Sides to the Debate

Although most Republicans support the law, the Democratic party has combatted the notion of it. Many opponents of the ban state that the restriction can put the lives of many in danger and affects women of color and those who are living in poverty heavily. ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also declared that they will sue. Many young people have also reached out to social media websites such as Twitter and Instagram to voice their opinions:

Tweets from individuals who are anti-abortion ban www.wnd.com

Many celebrities have also stated their opinions on the matter. Rihanna stated in one of her Instagram posts, "Take a look," referring to a picture of 25 Senators in Alabama who approved the abortion bill, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!"

Although both sides clearly have their opinions on the debate of pro-life/pro-choice, one thing we all can agree on is that this will be a long process that can make or break the lives of a lot of people in our nation.

Until next time,

Salsa.

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