Michael (Mike) Brown was a 17-year-old child who was due to start college tomorrow. However, his life’s goals and dreams were cut short yesterday evening.
Mike was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer for allegedly stealing candy from a local convenience store.
The officer shot the unarmed teen multiple times.
“He (the officer) shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air,” said Dorian Johnson, a friend of Mike’s, to KMOV. “He started to get down and the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”
This scenario is not new and it is very familiar. It is reminiscent of what happened to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, Victor White III, Denzel Curnell and, most recently, Eric Garner.
These individuals, who so happened to be Black, were human beings. Yet Black people are being gunned downed violently as if our lives do not matter.
Media coverage of these murders have been no better as the Blacks involved are constantly dehumanized and their murders subtly justified. Images from Trayvon Martin’s MySpace page were used to depict him as a thug. Jordan Davis was pegged as a delinquent. Renisha McBride was called a drunk. Eric Garner’s history of selling illegal cigarettes was brought into play.
I can only imagine what is going to be said about Mike Brown.
I assume his physical stature will be denoted. I assume his attire will be used to justify the actions of the police officer who consciously and, in my opinion, deliberately took his life. I assume he will be called a “man” as opposed to a “teenager” in order to criminalize the nature in the situation and place all responsibility for his murder on his shoulders.
The fact that Mike was a recent high-school graduate about to start college won’t come to the forefront. His accomplishments, his wants, his desires, his goals, his dreams and his current contributions to those around him will not be discussed. Mike Brown is going to be painted as though he brought this fate upon himself.
This doesn’t happen when white people are killed.
I’ve seen multiple tweets, usually from members of the white race, saying Mike shouldn’t have ran. He should have been wholly compliant. But how much more compliant does one get than turning around and putting their hands up?
Well, I think I have an answer to that. In America, it does not matter what you do; if your skin is Black, you are automatically out of line. You are automatically resisting arrest. You are automatically guilty. You automatically deserve whatever fate falls upon you. You are automatically at the mercy of a justice system that was never built to protect you.
You are, by default, not worthy of the basic human right to explain yourself. Your actions are never excused as you just being “young and dumb.” You’re not going through a phase. You’re not acting out. You don’t have a mental illness.
You’re a criminal. You’re a bad kid. You’re a delinquent. You’re a thug.
Or, at least, that’s what American society tells you. But, it doesn’t denote that none of those titles are reasons to unjustly end someone’s life. It doesn’t discuss how racially loaded and inaccurate that terminology is.
Black people are not allowed to be human or make mistakes. We have to be exceptional. We have to be perfect and walk on eggshells in a society that will damn us regardless of what we do or do not do.
We are required to be hyper-vigilant and, if we want to live, we must tactfully navigate a racially oppressive system and not piss off the wrong white person. And even then, our mere existence is enough to anger some.
Society fails to realize the humanity of the Black race. We deserve to be afforded basic human rights. We are worthy of existing in ways that don’t appease white supremacy. We have families. We have loved ones. We have jobs. We pay rent, the light bill and taxes. We’re people. We’re worthy of having that recognized.
Black people should not have to do certain things or behave a certain way in order to survive. We should just be able to live our lives.
It’s too bad the police don’t view it that way.