It Happened Again - 7.6.16

3:51 am, 7/6/16

“Even with videotaped evidence of police destroying Black people, many freedom-loving Americans remain unconvinced of a systematic problem.”

                                           — Jessie Williams

It’s happened again.

 

Working on projects, I try to ignore the flow of enraged statuses and cacophony of noises permeating the air from fireworks and unanswered texts to notifications and news updates. Tired of sitting down hunched over a computer screen, I decide to take a walk around the apartment and recheck into the cyberspace. A friend opens up to me, sharing his level of hurt and disgust by the latest act of police brutality.

 

No longer could I remain oblivious.

 

Knowing what I was getting myself into—as I did when watching Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Oscar Grant and Tamir Rice and Charly Keunang—I watch the 48-second clip. And Immediately I find myself in a familiar place: with tears staining my cheeks as they did when I, along with the rest of the nation, listened to the verdict on a murder of a boy my age. 

 

And immediately I remember the transformative text “Eating the Other,” where bell hooks speaks of the Black male body in pain as the epitome of wildness that, “rather than [acting as a] sign of pleasure,” only exists within the realm of consumption, as most graphically “the body in pain.” 

 

And immediately I think of how numb we are as a people, so unfazed by the hours upon hours of footage of lifeless Black and Brown bodies from near and far that inundate our social outlets to the point of desensitization.

 

And immediately I ask myself what is there to do and where is there to go when you need a moment of cathartic release before you continue your day. Asking, how will we be treated for the growing PTSD that plagues our psyche? A PTSD that hasn't been treated since our first colonial bouts with P(ost) T(raumatic) S(lave) D(isorder).

 

And immediately I am repulsed by the imminent news cycle, where the final moments of these bodies are looped: eternally replaying chokeholds, gunshots, and cries of agony. All the while the nation’s largest news giants look into the eyes of the public, leaving us at the brink of an orgasmic climax, knowing we get off on it. On the sadism. Masturbating our pleasure centers until we unleash a giant cumshot of millennial, half-assed bullshit on Instagram, to ensure we receive trivial validation from people whose real names we don’t even know.

 

On July 5th, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot six times at point-blank range by BRPD. Investigators are still working on gathering the details of the fatal shooting that left the father of five dead. 

 

The Baton Rouge Police have confirmed that at roughly 12:35 a.m., Sterling died at the Triple S Food Mart, located on the corner of North Foster Drive and Fairfields Avenue in East Baton Rouge Parish. According to Cleveland 19 News, the officers were responding to a 911 caller who claimed a man in a red shirt selling CD’s was threatening them with a gun. It was only moments later that the two BRPD officers started an altercation with Sterling. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie, Jr. stated that the body cameras worn by both officers fell off during the duration of the incident and, thus, do not show any footage. 

 

Store owner Abdul Muflahi, bore witness to the shooting. Talking to WAFB-TV, Muflahi recounted that one officer tased the Baton Rouge-native while the second tackled him. Struggling to get up, the taser-pulling officer drew his gun, shooting Sterling six times. An autopsy report finds he died after being shot in the chest and back. After, the officer withdrew a gun from Sterling’s pocket (one should note that Louisiana is an open-carry state). Though armed, witnesses concur that Sterling never placed his hand on his gun during the altercation.


Both are on paid administrative leave.

 

Another name to add to the litany of names of our fallen brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. It's unlawful to hang us from trees, but we are still being hunted.

 

Being part of a society where voicing one’s opinions is both encouraged—because its evocative—yet discouraged for the melanated—because it’s dissident—how does one cope? In a society so strung on “keeping it together” publicly that doctors rather medicate us at early ages to combat our anxiety, then point the finger and criminalize us once we become addicted. What is there to do, where is there to go, when you are tired and angry and tired and hurt and tired of being hurt? In this day and age, where are the safe spaces? 

 

Let this be a reminder that under these stars and stripes, we can’t send our brothers or sons to buy Skittles or drink iced tea. We shouldn’t wear hoodies or buy cigarillos. Selling CD’s and cigarettes is a valid reason for execution. And lastly, if/when you are annihilated by the toxic byproducts of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, your final moments will endlessly be exploited.

 

The day after we celebrated her independence, Black and Brown America was reminded that we still are not free.