National Park Foundation Funds Newly Established Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument

National Park Foundation Funds Newly Established Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument

New National Monument Will Increase Access to Civil Rights Movement History Through America’s National Parks System

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Emmett Till Interpretive Center (ETIC), the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Mississippi where an all-white jury acquitted two white men of Till’s murder in 1955 will be made accessible to the public as part of the newly established Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument.

Made possible through nearly $3 million dollars in private philanthropy, the courthouse will join two other sites that comprise the national monument, including Graball Landing where Till’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River and the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Mamie Till-Mobley held Emmett’s open-casket funeral.

As part of the National Park System, the courthouse will preserve the history of the Till family and this important chapter of civil rights history for present and future generations.

“The new park site holds the power to inspire a deeper and more complete understanding of America’s ever-evolving story,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Thanks to the partnership and support of the Mellon Foundation and Fund II Foundation, the new Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will make a seminal event in our nation’s civil rights era history accessible to all.”

Presiding Bishop Sheard Celebrates Creation of Till/Mobley Monument

With a $2 million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project, the National Park Foundation worked with ETIC and NPS to facilitate the acquisition of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse that enabled the establishment of the site by the National Park Service. This was possible through the purchase and renovation of an existing structure that will house the new county courthouse which is located blocks from the original.

“Due to the shared vision and coordination of the Till family, community activists, historians, educators, culture workers, and other partner organizations, the torture and murder of Emmett Till and the bravery of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley will be forever marked as sites of learning in the country’s commemorative landscape. The Mellon Foundation is honored to be a part of this vital collaborative effort to make indelibly present Emmett Till’s central and sacred place in our collective American history. May his tragic death and his mother’s courage continue to empower us to stand bravely against forces of violence and hatred.”

Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation.

This funding, in addition to $1 million from the Fund II Foundation, also supports the creation of a National Park Service Park Ranger position focused on community engagement to partner with local stakeholders and bolster efforts to interpret the Tallahatchie County Courthouse for park visitors, expand the digital storytelling around the Till family within the visitor center, conduct a cultural landscape report, and install a contemplative area at Graball Landing that allows visitors to reflect on the story of Emmett Till. “

Fund II is honored to support the establishment of a new park site that commemorates the people, places, and events that have shaped American history and African American experiences,” said Robert F. Smith, founder and president of the Fund II Foundation. “We are especially proud to support the digital storytelling that will bring the incredible story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley to a new generation of Americans.”

In addition to its funding support for NPF’s acquisition of the courthouse and park interpretive staff, the Mellon Foundation’s Monument Project has also made a $2.9 million grant to support restoration and public accessibility at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago.

SOURCE: National Park Foundation

It’s time for a check-in with our sons…

It’s time for a check-in with our sons…

It all began with the death of George Floyd and, now that former police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of his murder, Sherilyn Bennett believes now is the time for a check-in with her two adult sons KJ and Devonte. She believes that her role as their mother includes the responsibility of providing  emotional support for her sons and notes that the check-in may prove mutually beneficial. 

Surprisingly, many parents remain unaware of how deeply the tragedy has affected their children. The suppression of traumatic responses is not healthy and parents shouldn’t take the lack of response for granted, assuming their sons are well. Ms. Bennett encourages parents to avail themselves to guide and comfort their children as they express anger, sadness, confusion, or other emotions. Bennett hopes to make parents aware of the angst their sons and daughters may experience due to heightened tension between citizens and police- some  even feel targeted by police officers.

Last year, Bennett began compiling stories of systemic racism and police brutality from mothers around the country. The response was overwhelming, and she released, “boy: Defending Our Sons’ Identity in America” in January of this year. 

There is a history of black men being sacrificial lambs…it has to stop. The lynching, the shooting, the disregard of their humanity. They are our sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and leaders. They were never American boys.”

Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn, African-American historian and lecturer (historical contributor, posthumously)

The book chronicles the demoralizing and traumatizing encounters of black boys and men told by their mothers, sisters, and wives. Bennett added the story of her son who was detained without cause on his college campus. To this day, the future of that stop remains grimly unknown, but thanks to a coach who intervened, Bennett doesn’t have to think about it. Still, she knows many have faced this reality and, the scars yet remain. 

Ms. Bennett also recognizes the irrational disparity of emotional safety in the black community. She cites the failure for black men to openly show emotion as the root of this issue. She says of her and her ex-husband’s efforts to check in with her two sons, “we will parent until we die!” and encourages parents of both sons and daughters to get involved in the process of making self care a priority in the wake of the trial and guilty verdict.

In her book, Ms. Bennett included legal and mental health perspectives for readers to consider. In her contribution to the book, Stephanie Brinkley Wellon, LMHC wrote, “ is in our DNA to respond to trauma the way we do. Fight or flight mode does not work for us. We are simply stuck. It becomes hard to fight and we don’t have anywhere to go so we can become stuck in our emotional cages.” Ms. Bennett began the conversation with her sons and has encouraged parents to do the same. 

Mrs. Gwen Carr (Eric Garner’s mother) contributed the foreword and has encouraged activists to families, friends and the general public to move “from demonstration to legislation.” Mrs. Carr has successfully taken the fight for justice from the street to the chambers where decisions are made and laws are passed, and she is far from done. Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act” into law. Before her untimely death, Erica Garner also worked to honor her father and avenge his death. 

The nation is faced with officer-involved shootings (Daunte WrightMa’Khia BryantAndrew Brown, Jr.) once again and as the details are sorted out; parents and their children of all ages have an opportunity to bond, not over trauma as we have in the past, but in comfort and support of each other. ​

Derek Chauvin conviction a step in the right direction in the marathon for justice

Derek Chauvin conviction a step in the right direction in the marathon for justice

It finally happened; Derek Chauvin was convicted of the heinous death of George Floyd. The callousness with which he held him under his knee was palpable as people watched the eight-minute and forty-six-second video. Many had no idea that Mr. Floyd was subdued under Mr. Chauvin’s knee for nearly ten minutes. This and so much more was uncovered during the trial to the shock of those brave enough to watch.

The United States felt the weight of blackness following George Floyd’s death

Watching a trial like this is an emotional drain, and not-guilty verdicts in cases like these are the root of the multi-generational trauma many black citizens carry. We have seen black people killed and brutalized on video by police officers with impunity for years. In the last decade, black Americans have seemingly become the target of heinous murders surrounded by murky details and circumstances.

Even with the whole interaction filmed, police officers have faced little to no professional consequences or jail time. When police veteran Kim Potter killed Daunte Wright, she resigned before charges were filed. By now, citizens know that a resignation guarantees that officers can receive their pension after an investigation clears them. Once fired, an officer loses it all, something rarely seen in these cases.

Times Up on systemic racism

The use of force against black people is not new. Law enforcement beat back the advancement of black citizens crossing the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, known as “Bloody Sunday.” The inception of policing in America was after slavery as “slave patrols” and, if you look closely at some departments in America, the modus operandi is still the same. Citizens are seen as trespassers in the wrong neighborhood, criminals driving a stolen car beyond their means, or breachers of peace when demanding to know why they are being obtained.

Black citizens are often brutalized during encounters with officers while their white counterparts struggle and fight with arresting officers before being apprehended. Police officers have proven time and time again that they can use restraint, even in the most arduous situations. Why force is the initial response so often, we can’t help but suggest the attribution of systemic or even personal racism.

This case appealed to the sensibilities of humanity. The defense debated that everyone saw what they saw. Watching the video, you saw a man’s merciless death- an irrefutable fact. Chauvin’s remorseless defiance seemingly withered away as he invoked his fifth amendment right when it came time for him to speak for himself.

Waiting for the verdict was reminiscent of the George Zimmerman verdict. You just knew everything was in place to win a conviction, but the unease of a possible acquittal was just too much to bear. Unlike the Zimmerman verdict, Minneapolis got it right and to be frank, America HAD to get this right! In finding him guilty, the process begins of making it right, though it nor the historic civil settlement can make the Floyd family whole. America cannot shrink back and inhibit the process of reforming law enforcement.

Now is not the time to put citizens on the back burner once again. Police officers are not foot soldiers and cannot continue to terrorize the communities they are sworn to both protect and serve with impunity. This includes intimidation on the road such as: following behind drives for extended distances and running their license plates when they pull up behind them. The community doesn’t know who will respond to their 911 distress calls. Because they don’t know the responding officers and the officers don’t know them, officers like Aaron Dean impulsively shoot before asking questions. Tragic interactions like these have deprived the neighborhood, the greater community, and the world of a gift such as Atatiana Jefferson.

This is where you hear that not all police officers are ‘bad cops’. This is also where you will be reminded that not all black people are bad.

Far too often, injustice at the hands of police officers isn’t adjudicated, or officers win acquittals thanks to sloppy cases put together by the state or qualified immunity in other cases. This case was different. George Floyd wasn’t only under Derek Chauvin’s knee, he was held against his will under the influence of the pervasive misanthropy that has eroded the call and mission to protect and serve in many police departments.

Officers of the law see themselves as punishers for wrongdoing instead of upright upholders of the law. If looks could kill…well, look at Derek Chauvin’s face, it did! That look of lawlessness is frozen in the memories of anyone who watched that video. There is another look to be reminded of when you think of Derek Chauvin, though. The look of chagrin, confusion, and anxiety. Before he was led away in handcuffs, Mr. Chauvin’s eyes told a different story as he glared at the jury during the reading of the verdict.

We do indeed have a long way to go, but guilt on all three counts is one step in the right direction in a marathon for justice!

A Look Inside Ice Cube’s ‘Contract With Black America’

A Look Inside Ice Cube’s ‘Contract With Black America’

We keep our ears the ground and our feet to the beat of the streets to bring you news you can use. Every now and then a story comes across our desk that demands our input and whatever you’ve been reading about Ice Cube this week, needs some clarifying. In this article, we’re sharing the actual press release sent out by Ice Cube highlighting his activity with BOTH Presidential campaigns. We urge you to read it and read up on the Contract With Black America before you tweet or post. We do break rank with his previous statements and want to encourage EVERYONE to vote. One term of the Trump administration has been too long, already! The late Congressman John Lewis told us to get into good trouble, necessary trouble and we plan to, each chance we get!

With each election cycle, celebrities morph into influencers and even thought leaders in favor of candidates. Celebrities can increase their net worth or fame index based on successful stumping for or against a candidate or policy. With this reality, many voters look to those outside the world of politics so gain insight on issues of interest to them. Ice Cube’s recent calls to action have been rebuffed in large part because he has not committed to casting a ballot for President in 2020 amid demanding changes in favor of Black Americans on each governmental level. Voting is the democratic practice of impacting and affecting change, so it’s easy to understand why so many feel like his ideas lack logic.

Early voting has begun and many have already cast their vote but many others are still holding out to be swayed by last minute developments. Negativity surrounding the #CWBA, ties to the Trump campaign and fallout among Cube’s longtime fans is the type of misnomer can thrust a political campaigns to victory. So, we wanted to interject ourselves into the conversation and give readers a chance to see what progress looks like. In short, Ice Cube is no longer depending on the “system” to do right by Black Americans and is demanding the attention of our elected officials, starting with the President. The idea isn’t bad, the timing of it is off. Both the Trump and Biden campaigns have proffered their version of striving to meet the demands (you can read it on the website), but I’m sure you’ve only seen the Trump response.

Cube has never been one to bite his tongue so be real careful about what you “heard” him say. Even if he’s made a mistake in allowing the Trump campaign to use his name and ideas (we strongly doubt this administration will follow through on any promise to black people), the real damage will come if he has dissuaded undecided voters, people mistakenly vote for Trump believing he has endorsed him or people follow suit and don’t vote at all as he has expressed. Ice Cube has interjected himself in political conversations in California, and got a shout out when Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill creating a task force to make way for California to make slavery reparations.

California is making strides to consider reparations for slavery

What Is the Contract with Black America? Get ALL the details, here

As citizens and lawmakers both, we are joining to demand the Contract with Black America be addressed immediately to finally create the “more perfect union” all Americans deserve.  As such, it is time for a complete paradigm shift in how we run our institutions and operate our country.  The problems facing America are too deep and wide to simply reform one area or another. Long-lasting solutions demand a comprehensive thorough “rethink” of America so that each new approach in each area supports the success of the others. This Contract with Black America will provide conceptual approaches in several areas. 

Darrick Hamilton, in the Preface to the Contract, says “This Contract with Black America strikes at the heart of racism and presents a blueprint to achieve racial economic justice.  It was written in the backdrop of the killing of George Floyd, which set off a wave of protests not seen since the Civil Rights Era of the 1950’s and ’60’s, and a global pandemic in which the Black mortality rate is more than double the White rate and in which 45% (nearly half) of Black-owned businesses closed.

That the impact of something presumably random, such as a pandemic, however catastrophic, can be so linked to one’s racial identity is highly problematic – and further evidence that, as a nation, we are failing miserably.

This links to a larger political and economic vulnerability, whether we’re in a pandemic or not: the immoral devaluation of Black lives has been ingrained in America’s political economy and is long overdue for a reckoning.  This Contract with Black America is a patriotic pathway to promote our shared prosperity and achieve racial economic justice.”

 Ambassador Andrew Young is equally supportive. “The Pandemic has revealed to us the importance of the essential worker of which many are minorities.  We can grow no stronger without improving the sustainability of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The Contract for Black America is a comprehensive step toward an action plan that addresses the future stability of minorities and essential workers across the nation.”

To address racial inequality, after reading the Contract with Black America, we the undersigned agree to support and demand an open debate and a clear and fair vote within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress in 2021 on the following proposals to be codified into specific bills:

  1. Bill to Guarantee Black Opportunity and Representation.
    Adopt a plan of “Neo-Reconstruction” to redress past wrongs systematically imposed on Black Americans economically throughout many generations that has resulted in a “wealth gap” where the average White family has 10x the wealth of a Black Family.  In addition to some of the economic initiatives listed below, also formally apologize to Black Americans for past discrimination and slavery.  Additionally Black opportunity and representation will include: Affirmative Action in schools public and private; per student funding in states on an equal basis instead of paid by local property taxes; Black representation on all government civil rights bodies; civil rights classes mandatory in elementary schools; Gerrymandering reform; additional polling places in Black and minority neighborhoods; Juneteenth to become a Federal holiday.
  2. Bank Lending Reform.
    Bank lending will be regulated to require banks to lend a percentage of all loan and credit categories on an equal basis to the Black population each Bank serves. However, the minimum threshold must yearly meet the percentage equal to the national Black population (currently approximately 13.4%). Rates on Black loans federally and from banks to be same average rates as Whites.
  3. Federal Funding of “Baby Bonds”.  
    Pass federal program providing every child with a government funded trust account at birth starting with a $1,000 contribution.  As proposed by Senator Booker and Representative Pressley, accounts to be managed by the Treasury and only those born into lower-wealth families would receive more contributions each year up to $46,500 total.  At age 18 access to the funds allowed but use restricted to asset enhancing actions such as buying homes, starting businesses and funding education.
  4. Federal Reserve and Government Pensions.
    For qualified Black Americans, Federal Reserve to allow a one-time interest free loan for home ownership. The Fed to ensure Banks and institutions it oversees comply with Bank Lending Reform.  Fed to adopt Modern Monetary Theory with goal of Full Employment and avoidance of Actual Inflation.  Federal and State pension funds control over a trillion dollars. They must allocate 13.4% of their investments into Black owned enterprises and businesses. Venture Capital and Private Equity funds that take money public entities must invest 13.4% of their total funds in Black owned businesses. 
  5. Finance Oversight.
    A Banking Commission (or even a Cabinet or Sub-Cabinet post) will be set up to overlook and report on Black and minority lending, housing ownership and mortgages, and enforcement of items 2 and 3 above.  Such authority will also oversee and audit federal programs such as Economic Opportunity Zones and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to determine who is benefiting from disbursement of such funds. Will provide for a transparent reporting mechanism for abuses to economic programs designed to benefit communities in need.
  6. Personal Data and Credit.
    Most states publicly release bulk data about arrestees unchecked. Like the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act regarding credit data, there must be guidelines regarding arrest records that allow similar privacy and accuracy protections and the right to dispute and correct inaccurate data.  Credit services will be reformed to mandate consideration of individual consumer data on rent, utility, cellphone, and other like bill payments.
  7. Prison Reform.
    Privately run prisons will be abolished, prison labor disallowed without consent, and nonviolent offenders incarcerated for 10 years or longer will be freed if good behavior standards met.  All prisoners for marijuana possession freed.  First offense for illegal drug use or possession to require government payment for entry into an approved drug rehabilitation program rather than imprisonment. Once any prisoner completes sentence, voting rights are restored.
  8. Judicial Reforms.
    Eliminate mandatory minimums and three strike laws.  The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice reformed through stricter guidelines and greater oversight over police departments.  DOJ can be sued for non-compliance.  Lynching to become a federal hate crime and the Ku Klux Klan declared a terrorist organization.
  9. Police Reform Act.
    Police reforms will be implemented in an expansive act that will at minimum include:  Elimination of Qualified Immunity; requirement of mandatory malpractice insurance for police officers; make municipalities liable for unconstitutional actions by police; mandatory use of dashboard and body cams; elimination of chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants; establishment of residency requirements, de-escalation training, and requirement to update training; severe penalties for evidence tampering including withholding DNA.  A federal database of police and disciplinary records established and made public and once fired for cause cannot be rehired.  Creation of Office of Independent Prosecutors to solely focus on prosecuting police accused of wrongdoing.  Other reforms as listed in greater detail in the Contract with Black America.
  10. FCC Licensing of public airwaves.
    Broadcast networks will be required to air Black produced content equal to 20% of the total content on the network as measured by time.
  11. Confederate Monuments and Institutions.
    Elimination of all Confederate statues and uses or displays of Confederate flags on government grounds or property with public access.  Rename all streets, schools, public structures, etc. named after Confederate soldiers or leaders.  A memorial will be built in Washington D.C. to victims of police excessive force.
  12. AJP Program for Education and Jobs.
    Adoption of AJP, A Public/Private program that provides access to jobs and education and/or training for people willing to put in the work and commitment. 
  13. Black Responsibility.
    Chronic poverty creates an atmosphere full of negativity, frustration, hopelessness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and violence. These are some of conditions that plague the Black Community which is dealing with extreme generational poverty. As we begin to gain social and economic equality it is our duty to clean up ourselves and our community. This contract is a 2-way street. As we gain social and economic equality, we must begin to dissolve any bitterness in our hearts for past wrongs. We must become better citizens who are more productive on all levels of American society. We really must step up after we pass the Contract with Black America with no more excuses left in the kiddie. Our entertainers should be persuaded to deliver more positive content that leads our youth to make better choices in life. A new pride must develop with these new opportunities and we must fight against negativity, frustration, hopelessness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and violence.


Time’s Up on Systemic Racism in Law Enforcement

Time’s Up on Systemic Racism in Law Enforcement

If you need to get caught up on where this piece takes off from, read my article about non-blacks feeling the weight of blackness in America. Yes, this is another article about the death of George Floyd and other black men and women brutalized and killed by law enforcement officers. When women were fed up with rape culture in Hollywood, they spoke up with the mantra, “time’s up.” I don’t want to hijack their movement which after many years has righted many wrongs, but I do need to borrow that energy! After watching yet another black man die at the hands of police brutality, we’re here to say the same.

Sign the petition to get justice for George Floyd

The movement has been co-opted and hijacked by white people seeking fame and seeking to discredit the valiant cause. We will not be silenced! And to those wishing to deflect the conversation and responsibility of the movement by bringing up black on black crime, I have this question: Since officers can solve black on black crime so well, where’s the disconnect when one of theirs is in video committing a crime? What about the super sleuths on the force which can break up a criminal enterprise but feel so comfortable existing as part of one? Does your goodwill and integrity clock out when you clock in on the force? 

To those good cops out there who are tired of getting the blame, I’m not sorry. As a law-abiding black man, this is the weight I feel when an officer speeds up behind me, hoping I have a warrant (because I can visibly see him searching on the laptop in his cruiser). I’m a good guy, I pay my taxes, give in church, love my family, and even vote in each election, why am I living under presumed guilt when An officer sees me? I don’t just want officers to see me as a just man; I actually want simply be alive after they see me.

How did we get here? 

This past decade rivals one of the bloodiest in our country’s history. If not a return to the lawless days of the 60’s when black people, men in particular were hunted down by white men who never faced prosecution, it is a dangerous reprisal. 

With the death of George Floyd, the world saw just how bad it is on the street for a black man.  The world has again seen that the greatest terrorist in the world is a uniformed police officer. The people’s response to this? We’ve taken it to the streets! The President wants to arm the military against citizens but where in the world are my friends who took up arms and marched to the Capitol, City Hall and Governor’s mansions for a haircut?!? Where are y’all? These people don’t love the constitution, they love themselves and use loopholes in the constitution for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement.

With all this marching and protesting going on, what will it take for cities, counties and states to take action and actually change? The remaining three officers are yet to be arrested, and cities with the same police brutality problem have made no sweeping changes. In fact, they’re committing the same crimes during the protests (we see you, Louisville). What if anything are municipalities doing? It feels like they’re just waiting for it all to just “blow over” and get back to business as usual.

Come on, man, what else does this country need to see before people in power are moved to do something? What needs to happen to spur immediate action? It’s obviously not the death of an unarmed citizen. But is it the death of an official? Officers? What is it? Obviously the death of an unarmed citizen at the hands of FOUR police officers isn’t enough? Making matters worse, George Floyd was a black man like hundreds of others before him! 

What will it take?

We thought Freddie Gray would move the needle (his death was so heinous), Philando Castile? He couldn’t even get support from the NRA and adding insult to injury, the officer was acquitted!  What is it all for when nothing is happening? In a letter condemning the killing of George Floyd, the major Cities Chiefs Association has juxtaposed itself against this moment in history. Law enforcement leaders have the audacity to rise to the podium and chide protesters (looters, be damned) but won’t say a word to officers or how they plan to flatten the curve of citizen deaths at the hands of their departments.

What are we to do after so many of these high profile deaths?

It’s laughable that police chiefs have spoken up to decry the actions of the officers in Minnesota but on that list I noticed that Fort Worth’s Chief Krause (Atatiana Jefferson) and Dallas’ Chief Hall (Botham Jean) lent their support. Oh really? Is that how it works?!? Hypocrites!! How can you condemn in the heat of the moment when you won’t rise to the moment when it’s in your house?

It’s time to start making changes. I’m tired of law enforcement brutalizing citizens of all races so I’m speaking up. Am I hated for it? Sometimes. Do I feel misunderstood by my friends? Sometimes. Do I have a higher calling to answer to? All the time! So, time is up on the tolerance bad police behavior. We are here, wherever that is for you because we are tired! The United States has erupted in protests and in solidarity with sensible citizens who will no longer sit idly by, nations all over the world have joined in. Dr. King joined others in Montgomery, Alabama yesterday (nearly 65 years ago), and we are here today; but if we are still here tomorrow, the fires of injustice will finally consume this nation! We refuse to tolerate systemic racism in law enforcement, time is up!

We’re Here Because We’re Tired

And you know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. There comes a time.

We are here, we are here this evening because we’re tired now. And I want to say that we are not here advocating violence. We have never done that. I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.

And certainly, certainly, this is the glory of America, with all of its faults. This is the glory of our democracy. If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a Communistic nation we couldn’t do this. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
With the Death of George Floyd, America Feels the Weight of Blackness

With the Death of George Floyd, America Feels the Weight of Blackness

George Floyd, Provided by Ben Crump Law Offices

The last moments of George Floyd’s life were spent on a Minneapolis street with an officer’s knee in his neck. I’m conflicted by the large outpouring of support for George Floyd who was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s death was wrong, uncalled for, and unjust, but, wasn’t Amaud Arbery‘s death was the same? With coverage of the Coronavirus crisis eclipsing most other national news stories, many Americans remain unaware of the wrongful death of Louisville EMT, Breyonna Taylor.

Here’s why I advise you not to watch disturbing videos of police brutality

 It’s unsettling to think that even in a global pandemic, black Americans still face the threat of police brutality and murder. It’s chic for non-blacks to be outraged and so easy to jump on this bandwagon because everyone saw the injustice! The police serve to hold citizens accountable when they break the law, even unintentionally. But, who will hold law enforcement accountable when they do wrong, even unintentionally?

This problem doesn’t end with George Floyd’s death. It didn’t end with Philando Castile who was also murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. Philando Castile was a law-abiding, card-carrying member of the NRA who was shot, seconds after lawfully mentioning that he carried a weapon. Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her home, but her death was only the first of many in her family. Following her death, her father Marquis, and her mother (whom she cared for at the time she was killed) Yolanda Carr also passed away shortly thereafter. The toll on families is perhaps even a greater tragedy than the actual injustice.

Following the death of Atatiana Jefferson, the community asks, “what now?”

Americans all over the country are outraged, and rightfully so. For many, this is the first time police brutality has grabbed their attention. They’re faced with the reality they have denied for so long but now, they get it. Cynical non-black Americans may finally be ready to harmoniously join what they have reviled as cacophony, the cries of black Americans who just want a chance to be seen. Black Americans want to be seen not as a threat or perpetrator, but as citizens deserving of the inalienable rights provided in the Constitution. For those whose anger will subside with the onset of a new news cycle, this is a great time for you to have a long look at the person staring back at you in the mirror.

That feeling in the pit of your gut? That’s the inconvenience of going forward with this same outrage. Black Americans live with it, every day! The trauma of chattel slavery, segregation, redlining, Black Wall Street, Jim Crow era violence perpetrated against our forefathers, and the murders of agents of change like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers is in the DNA of black Americans and is passed down to each generation. We don’t get to stop making noise nor can we afford to take days off from being vigilant about where we go, how we maneuver through stores, restaurants, and other places of business. We just want to live, but we’re tired.

Thankfully, Christian Cooper isn’t a hashtag, today.

It seems to always happen with our non-black friends who start to weigh and second-guess their posts on social media and never even stop to think how safe their non-black sons and adult men are during traffic stops and other police interaction. Because non-blackness is seen as an asset and not a liability, soon, you too may feel it irrational to keep this conversation alive in your circle of influence. You’ll feel silly for thinking about it, and you may even feel threatened for speaking up. Either way and if but for only a moment, you have felt the weight of blackness this week.

Thank you for carrying it this week, but do you intend to carry it once this news cycle ends? The weight of blackness is not ultimately carried by black Americans, alone. It’s carried by those that see the problem and are willing to say, “he ain’t heavy…” you know the rest. This challenge is to all our brother’s keepers currently and conveniently riding today’s wave of outrage.

The real hero in Oakland was a white woman filming “BBQ Becky

The fact that we carry the weight of blackness well doesn’t negate the fact that it’s heavy. Say the names of these martyrs to people that refuse to hear them. Speak their names and tell their stories with empathy and not disdain. As we again find ourselves at this impasse, we must choose to cross over together. This means that non-black Americans must help lift black-American perception and possibility across the bridge to a better tomorrow in hopes of finally making this country as great as it purports itself to be.

The SMG Report