Written by Kelsea Wilkerson
The African-American body is undervalued and unappreciated in America. Even more so, the life of the African-American man, as precious as it is, is in constant danger of being eradicated. As I organized my thoughts to write this piece, I had to ask myself: Why exactly are you mad?
The constant display of rioters by the 24-hour news cycle has distracted people from the issue at hand: American police officers are killing black men. The initial issue is being lost in the jargon of riots and looting. It is amazing how a corner store burning took on more importance than the life of Freddie Gray in the national media.
Freddie Gray, a 25 year old Black man died on April 19, 2015 from injuries sustained in his arrest a week earlier. Though his family requested peace and no violence, rioting broke out all over the city of Baltimore. The idea of violence vs. non-violence is a perplexing concept. There were no riots for the death of Trayvon Martin, and George Zimmerman, who stood trial for the murder of Trayvon, walked free. On the other hand you have Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri who was left for dead in the street for hours, who was rioted for, yet his killer, Officer Darren Wilson, was not even indicted by the grand jury. Let us also not forget the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and Tony Robinson; no one has been brought to justice for their tragic deaths. It saddens me that after each Black man is killed we must ask ourselves, “Will the next one be the last one?”
If you are not vehement at the current state of black America, then the problem is not the looters and the rioters, the problem is you. You are failing to realize the harsh parallels between slavery and the present, between Jim Crow and James Crow, Esq. History is taught in an effort to encourage avoiding the mistakes of the past, but also in a way that makes it hard to realize the manifestation of history in different forms.
Malcolm X once said, “Our objective is complete freedom, justice, and equality by any means necessary.” It is apparent that law enforcement protects themselves and their own by any means necessary, but when will we do the same? I urge my readers to do their research, and study black history in conjunction with American history. Our story is one that others can manipulate if we are not conscious to their efforts. I believe in my black people. I believe in our strength and willpower to fight in solidarity against a law enforcement system that was not meant to protect us but instead to destroy us.
Kelsea is a native of Mesquite, TX and a graduating senior at the University of Texas-Austin where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in African and African diaspora studies. Kelsea is interning in the Office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.