During a conversation with a colleague today, it was brought to my attention that another attack on Black America had taken place in West Virginia. Over the weekend, new property owner, Garrick Hopkins, 60, was showing his brother, Carl Hopkins, 61, the recently purchased property that he and his wife had acquired. While doing this, their new neighbor, Rodney Bruce Black, 62, shot both of them without warning. Mr. Black informed law officials that he was "under the impression that his family still owned the property and thought they, the Hopkins', were breaking into his property." But you didn't think to at least warn them that you were armed? Wow! Garrick Hopkins and Carl Hopkins, Barboursville, West Virginia
Earlier last week, it was brought to my attention while watching my daily dose of local news that 32-year old Cladius Smith chased, shot, and killed 21-year old Ricardo Sanes because he thought Sanes was a burglar and when he confronted Sanes and Sanes decided to walk away, Smith grabbed him to pull him back to his apartment to wait until the police arrived. When Sanes fought back, Smith said "his immediate response was to pull the trigger and fire shots." Really? And you didn't think to walk away as well all while getting a good look at the young man to inform law officials? Oh. Ok. Ricardo Sanes, Orlando, Florida
And of course, I can go on with Jonathan Ferrell, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, and countless other young Blacks who have been victims of careless individuals who, for whatever reason, feel that taking a life is the way to defend oneself. (see below for stories/updates)
So, let's take a moment to talk about the message this sends to America. Or even greater, the world. As an African American female, I get the impression that to take a life, it is okay as long as you recite "self-defense". The responsibility to call on those who have sworn their lives to serve and protect seems to be optional. Or, has our faith in the justice system and law officials dwindled; which I am sure that some would argue that the system was never indented for People of Color from the beginning. Our media has done a great job sheltering the social issues from us and directing our attention on other things. And do not get me wrong, Immigration reform and LGBT Rights, issues in Egypt and Russia are all important, but how can we focus on other issues when we are telling the world that the lives of young Black Americans has no value in our society.
And I am still in awe by the thought that there is so much fear and hate in our society that individuals are willing to face their fate and live the rest of their lives in a jail cell. Sometimes I wonder if those who have chosen to take these lives believe that they are doing something positive to impact our society. I wonder how many of these tragedies have provided jobs, changed the education system, or has solved the numerous wars overseas.
Why is it that America believes that anyone of color is a harm? Why is this message still delivered today? Especially in what so many want us to believe is a "Post-Racial America". From what I can see, majority of those who have taken the lives of these innocent victims are White, or appear to be White. But no one wants to talk about that. We have focused so much on Richard Sherman's rant or the young football star who chose to share his sexuality with the world, and other irrelevant issues that we fail to address that their is a social issue at hand and it looks like an attack on Black America.
And if you think I am dreaming this up, take a look at previous generations. I am from the Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo era. These victims were not criminals but they were treated as such. And if we dig further back, the Civil Rights Movement is only 50 years old. There are so many from within the Black community who have lost their lives due to fear and hate.
Does it really only take the "assumption" of one to declare someone a criminal or "suspicious". And is it up to us, as individuals, to determine what is suspicious?
And let's talk about Black on Black crime or "Minority on Minority" crime. Not too many people would admit or recognize the systemic divide that has been orchestrated for us, people of color, to fight against one another to sustain this long stemming system oppression that started way before slavery. For the life of me, I cannot wrap my mind around understanding why African Americans or other people of color, decide to take the life of someone they fear, instead of finding other ways to address this fear. We talk about living in a harmonious society with love and solidarity but there are some people who really do not want it or do not care to recognize the destruction that we are creating within our society.
As I wrote this, I recalled back to when I learned about genocide and its place in the U.S. society. I have the same heart wrenching feeling thinking about its place now.