Death Does Not Discriminate
An eerily calm woman speaks into her cellphone, trying to hold it steady as she records video. “We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back,” she begins, as the camera pans to her left to a black man seated next to her slumped toward her, his white shirt covered in blood. He moans in pain, his eyes appearing to roll back in his head. We see a gun protruding into the car and pointed at the black woman and her boyfriend. All we can see are the forearms of a white police officer (we later learn is hispanic) and the gun pointed at the black couple.
This is not an opening of the next True Detectives or the latest Netflix original series. This is a recorded video of Diamond Reynolds and the aftermath of her boyfriend Philando Castile being shot four times by, in my opinion, a frazzled and novice police officer. In the video you hear the officer freaking out yelling, “F—” and screaming, “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up!”
We can speculate as we (the audience) judges why and how the black woman calmly calls her boyfriend’s death before the fact, perhaps knowing that he wouldn’t make it. Despite being only 4 years and just witnessing the brutal shooting from the back seat, Reynolds daughter is heard comforting her mother.
Death streamed live to our Facebook timelines via smart phones, tablets, laptops and computers. Death entered our homes reality-TV-like, only a bit too real for some of us still in shock over the quick ability for anyone to shoot footage and share it via social media with a gun pointed at her and her boyfriend bleeding to death. To the citizen journalist, the only weapon as it appears today is a smartphone and yet it’s the biggest threat to our psyche. Twenty-first century citizens are already becoming immune to the rawness of live, gruesome footage that it’s tantamount to snuff films.
From the White house to pundits on news stations, the angry rhetoric regarding police officers was immediate. It continued and continued, planting a deep seed of hate into an angry black Army reservist and Afghanistan War veteran. And then the horrific hellish nightmare unfolded in Dallas, the beautiful city where I was born. Death streamed live into our living rooms once more. Death took the form of a sniper picking off police officers there to protect the very people protesting against them.
Black lives do matter, but so do blue lives as well as all others, and a few police officers that demonstrate bad judgment don’t reflect all police officers. Twelve Dallas police officers were caught in the crosshairs with five of those officers no longer able to return to their families (Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens). Death took a man’s mind and turned his anger into insanity and more blood was shed while a city is left to mourn. The constant encouragement to march towards asserting our voices has only encouraged rioting, violence, and divisive demonstrations often leading to death.
No more bodies need to lie six feet beneath the earth with black cladded mourners left to bury fathers, sons, brothers, children. More death and more racism against cops or “white people” doesn’t solve racism itself, instead racism perpetuates. Stoking the racial fire with continuous media coverage that display a few police officers and the awful deaths of black men only fuels the anti-police script. If the White House, pundits, leaders of this country, and news sources are to cover injustices and wrongful killings potentially due to racism, then equal coverage is needed during the many heroic moments when police officers risk their lives.
The challenge lies when citizen journalists and their smart phones allow gruesome videos to go viral. It forces us to take a hard look at the reality that racism always existed. Police violence has always existed. Yet, it’s now being captured by our camera phones making it available for all Internet users for their streaming pleasure.
The massive divide between law enforcement and black Americans continue, yet what is the solution? Friendly conversation? A pep talk by a few famous black celebrities living in their mansions, attempting to act like they are the voice of the average black man?
How do we, as the land of the free and the home of the brave, prevent more bloodshed and death? Take away our rights and you still have human will. Take away guns and people will still find a way to kill each other.
I have no faith that racism (against everyone not just blacks, but against white cops) will end in my lifetime. But, it’s more than a racial issue. It’s about a world becoming chaotic and enlisting in anarchist behavior.
It’s about lawlessness.
I predict more live streaming deaths as horrific as that is, we’re already becoming numb.