I don’t know what to feel anymore. I don’t know how to feel. You’ll excuse me if by the end of this post you feel offended, hurt, attacked or something like that, but at this time I cannot afford to care about pleasing anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I am speaking from the heart, and my heart is pretty messed up.
This tour, the US Tour is supposed to be a journey. A journey in which we will share our story, a story of rebirth, a story of reconstruction, a story of how a group of youngsters is working to move past the adversity of their parents’ generation and the terrible tragedy that arose from it. A story of how we are contributing to build a nation in which we and the generations after us are judged by the content of our character and not the ethnic group we were born in. This tour is supposed to be a journey in which we can inspire those with whom we interact to see our way, to do the same.
Lord knows how excited I was in January, when I was selected. Lord knows the enthusiasm, the sheer joy, the anticipation that was bubbling in these past months. And Lord knows, how in the space of 12 days all my hopes are now shattered. Lord knows, how confused and stricken I feel as I write this.
On June 26, i watched Jesse Williams deliver his moving speech denouncing racial inequality and police brutality as he accepted the Humanitarian Award, a speech in which he mentioned it would’ve been Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday the previous day. The next day a petition was created to fire him from Grey’s Anatomy, which now has 23,000 supporters. Part of the petition reads “Jesse Williams spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people at the BET awards. If this was a white person making the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired and globally chastised, as they should be, but there has been no consequences to Williams’ actions.”
Barely a week later, Jesse has been proven right. On July 5, Alton Sterling was shot 5 times in the chest and back after having been pinned on the ground by two cops. On July 6, Philando Castile was shot by a cop four times in the driver seat of his car, with his girlfriend in the passenger seat and her daughter watching from the backseat. He died from his wounds later. And as always, a whole legion of people is now defending both homicides. In Alton’s case criminal records have been pulled out, people countlessly repeating that he had threatened someone earlier, that he was carrying a gun (in an open-carry state,hmm!). But is that the point though, cause from my perspective, the point is that he had been subdued. The point is that two videos amply show he wasn’t reaching for his gun which an officer pulled from his pocket after he was shot. The point is that he was shot at as close a range as close range can get and the officer had multiple choices of non fatal places to shoot at, the arms for example. The point is that he chose to point the gun at the chest and shoot twice, wait a few seconds, then shoot again three times. And what of Castile? is the point that he had a gun? Or that he was reaching for his pockets? Or is the point that he had informed the cop that he WAS carrying a gun, and that he wanted to retrieve his ID, which the officer had just asked?
This tour is supposed to be about teaching and learning. But how do you talk to someone who doesn’t want to listen, how do you teach someone who doesn’t want learn? How am I supposed to feel when a petition to fire someone for pointing out the very same things that happened in the last three days has increased in supporters from 23,216 when I started writing this post to 23,262 in the minutes it took me to write these lines? What is the purpose of me going, if it will all have been in vain?
There is no lesson or moral to this post, those are for you to find or not. I am just pouring my heart out. I am crying for those lost souls. And if you are asking yourself why two dead African-Americans would matter so much to an African, ask yourself what prompted you to be Charlie, to pray for Paris, and to cry for Brussels.