Charlotte. Baton Rouge. Baltimore. New York City. Falcon Heights. Ferguson. Cleveland. And many more. These are cities black people are very familiar with because these are cities where black people have been killed by police. We know these cities by name and by person. It is an insanely traumatizing way to remember cities and names, but that is our unfortunate reality. But, there are those who forget. In one of my classes last week, my sociology teacher was listing these very same cities. One guy, without shame or remorse, rose his hand and asked exactly why my professor was listing these cities. My heart dropped. For someone who has kept a running list of deaths and where these deaths occurred, I was in sincere shock. And then I remembered: my reality is not the same as most of my white counterparts. They do not have to live in this perpetual state of grief for those killed by an institution that was designed to help us, or so it was said. Instead, they have yet another privilege that I'm calling the privilege to forget.
What does this mean? It means that people can forget killings by police as if it is a normal event and move on to the next topic without thinking twice. This privilege especially annoys and angers me. It is a stem of the system that was designed against us. The black race is brutalized on national TV for the entire world to see, further traumatizing and eventually desensitizing us, and the white race is largely unmoved. Sadly, the guy who spoke in my class wasn't the only one. Many others have ignored the killings since Mike Brown was murdered in Ferguson to now. They don't recognize names like Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling. Yet, I had dreams of Sandra Bland. Yet, when Philando Castile passed away on my birthday and Alton Sterling the day before, it was impossible to forget the videos. Yet, the number according to killedbypolice.net, the number of people killed by the police is at 862 to date with four people killed by police on September 30, 2016.
As the number inevitably increases, black people are faced with many questions. Should we view the videos or not? Do we honestly want to see someone being murdered without question right in front of our eyes? Are we becoming desensitized to our people being slain in the name of law and order? Do we want our children to know that we are being targeted? If they know, how do we explain to them why? How are they supposed to navigate this hurt? What do we say when people ask us why we are hurting?
The questions could go on and on. It is not up to us to answer all of them, but it is up to us to make sure that those killed by the police are not erased by the system; not erased from history. Remember these people and fight every single day to assure that they do not die in vain. Keep the fight going, and be blessed.