Unless you've been living under a rock the past week you've heard about the despicable police brutality that Oscar Grant, a Oakland, CA resident, was a victim of on New Years Days. If you've never heard of this particular case until now, don't be ashamed because unfortunately, since I've been on my (well deserved) winter break from school I haven't been doing anything besides sitting on my ass and staying away from all things intellectual. I find it quite blasphemous to attempt to exert my energy towards "learning" when I have been forced to do for the past three months against my own will. Call it what you want, lazy, selfish, assholeish, stubborn, but this intellectual break is something that I feel I'm entitled to at this point in my life. In fact, the only news I've been concerned with the past few weeks is the news that Stuart Scott, Chris Berman and/or Stephen A. Smith reports. But that's besides the point. I apologize as I just lost my train of thought, allow me to forge myself back on track.
I have to extend major props to my homey Clif for helping educate me on this horrible occurence. Besides the fact that I have been to lazy to catch up on the latest news stories (can someone inform me on what's going on in Gaza?) I feel that I sometimes become immune to injustice in America, and that is something that I have to learn to steer clear of. My first initial reaction upon hearing a brief synopsis of this story was: "Wow, what a surprised. Another black man murdered by a white police officer." That my friends, is sad, I should never think that way, and neither should any of you. Oscar Grant was a innocent man, who along with his friends, may have been involved in an altercation of some sort prior to being encountered by the officers, but, he did not exhibit any action that was worthy of having a gun pulled on him and being shot to death.
Did he pull out a gun on the police officers? No. Did he violently resist arrest? No, not from my observation. So why did he get shot? Well, in my personal, humble, compeltely bias opinion based on my personal life experiences is that the life of a black man means nothing to a white cop. A black man, in most of their eyes, is worthless, violent and they feel as though they need to take violent measures to "tame" them as though they are animals. There is no doubt in my mind that these same police officers or any other white cop (or black cop for that matter) would have been more lenient towards a white man . Am I wrong? If am, I encourage you by all means to prove it. We tend to forget that we are only 40 years removed from the Civil Rights Era, and 30+ years removed from the Black Power Movement (and the Black Panthers were established in Oakland, what a coincidence). Which means, even though we have a black president, racism and many of the sick and twisted mindstates that were present during the 1960s and 70s are still alive in our society. Look at it like this, these police officers could very well be the children of racist and predujice parents who may have lived in the Oakland era during a time where racist were open about their intentions. I'm rambling a bit, but bare with me, because this is a topic that I am passionate about. There are just so many things that need to be "un-learned" in American society by both blacks and whites, I hope that this is another sign of that.
I titled this post "What's Next" because I wonder, what can be accomplished in times like this when you riot and destroy the very community in which you live in? I understand the anger and remorse they feel (or do I really?) but I can't help ponder what good this can do for the tragedy. In times such as this, it's always imporant to look at things from a historical perspective and correctly analyze moments in history when a group of people were faced with similiar circumstances and what they did to combat the problem.
I can't help but think that the Oakland police department knew very well the black/minority community would react with anger and proceed to riot. But what if, instead of rioting, we all mobilized and practiced a nonviolent protest similiar to that of Martin Luther King or Gandhi? While, I admire Malcolm X a lot, his methods of protesting and taking action were only relevant for the era he lived in. Martin Luther Kings method certainly worked during his lifetime and is very much needed for our generation. Even still, if that approach was taking, what happens next? The police officer is fired, the family possibly wins their lawsuit, but what's going to stop another cop from doing the same thing in the future. Because it's obvious that this has the possibility of happening again. We aren't that far removed from Sean Bell's incident people. There has to be some type of grass roots movement. We have to force the police departments to enforce stricter criteria when hiring officers and in minority communities it is absurd to think that it is acceptable to appoint a majority of white officers in those areas. Also, these officers need to be better trained how to handle situations such as these. There is no reason that cases such as these still happen throughout our "wonderful" country.
I say all of this for what though? My faith in the justice system is as low as its ever been and I don't see it improving soon. Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States and on November 4th 2008 I was as excited as any black person, but after all the hype died down I came back to my senses. He is just another politician and I've never trusted them. Sure, I hope he does great things in his presidency, I will be rooting for him, but I won't count on him or any other politician to handle what we as people (black, white, brown, yellow, etc) need to accomplish ourselves...
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - MLK