On the night before Father’s Day my city, my hometow experienced a tragedy that turned our life as we knew it upside down. One of our own was brutely killed by one of own police officers. I learned of his identity during my Sunday school class. I knew him, I knew his family, I knew his mother. We are the same age, he has children, a wife, and a family and during a random traffic stop his life as he knew it was over. How did one single event spiral out of control? He was not only killed he was brutely murdered. Over kill…if you will.
As the days passed the city organized a coalition for justice. We wanted to know why this happened? He died one block from the hospital but no one can explain why he wasn’t immediately taken to the hospital. Many banded together in their support for justice. We showed our support by changing our profile pictures, we used hashtags daily #justiceforronnie. We mentioned our concerns in our local churches, in our beauty and barber shops. Press rallies were held, radio shows were devoted, tshirts were made, rallies were formed, news paper articles were written. We were and are seeking justice and we wanted it immediately.
As a little girl my father kept me well informed about the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. I often watched and wondered how could so many hate so many others. And growing up in Tupelo I experienced racial discrimination first hand at school, working my job and simple things like driving my suv trying to make it home after the football games. It never mattered what neighborhood I grew up in or who my parents were in the community at the end of the day I was just another black girl. And because of that its ok that I am followed around the department stores, its ok that I am arrested for asking an officer what I am stopped for, its ok that my kids are targeted for their long hair, its ok that my husband , brother,and dad are followed because they are always accused suspects.
When I was married and lived in Birmingham, Al, one day after leaving the downtown area I visited the civil rights park. I looked at the statues of the dogs attacking young men and women. My mind automatically went to those statues and that reality when I read the article and saw the pictures of Ronnie Shumpert.Didn’t life get better, haven’t we grown from that time? Or did we just cover it up? After all didn’t we elect a black president!
What happens when we say enough is enough ? What happens when we say lets fight for our rights? Is it so wrong to have equal rights? Is it so wrong not to band together when we have all been oppressed, belittled, bambozzled, hood winked and duped? Is it ok for you, those of you who do not understand the cause to purposely split the group in order to gain some sort of recognition? And how can you say you don’t see color when you’re talking to me, yet you manage to ask me every derogatory question you can ask? I never asked you if you can square dance or yodle but it is acceptable to ask me if I can rap.I mean, seriously.
Its time out for trying to be recognized and its time to ban together as a community of leaders to show that we have the right to be treated fair and just. Pride has to step aside, cliches have to leave and victory has to be won. The greatest part of this is victory can be won by a few but it will benefit many.
Stand up !