Call to Action-Let's Act
Call to Action - Let's Act
With the news of yet another unarmed black person in America gunned down, seemingly senselessly and in plain sight by the police, I've sat in an almost numb reflection since I learned the news. Terence Crutcher's life has now been reduced to another hashtag, another t-shirt is on its way, but yet and still we can't seem to remedy something that has been marched and protested over countless times in recent years.
So here we are again, wondering what we can do. With the election looming, it is imperative that we make our voices heard NOW. I encourage each and every one of us to contact our Representatives. If you are not sure where to start, you can go to this website to find out who to contact in your area: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
This was the letter I wrote to my representative on January 6, 2015. I still wonder if he received this:
Representative Van Hollen,
As a registered Black American voter in Montgomery County, MD who voted for your re-election, I felt it was imperative to contact you directly regarding my concerns. I have been following the recent events involving police brutality and their respective responses. The automatic assumption of wrong doing in even the most minute of circumstances breeds the largest of affects. Just as our police force does not want to be brandished as "all bad", people of color have had to deal with these types of assumptions for their entire lives.
Generation after generation, we have seen the repercussions of social and economic disparity: lack of education and opportunity, systematic segregation and poverty are only a few examples of issues facing people of color today. Couple this with not only a feeling of injustice, but proof that, in many instances, people of color face a justice system that seemingly is not in the business of protecting their own best interest (i.e. policies like "Stop and Frisk" and "Broken Windows"), it becomes clearer why there is an overwhelming sense of frustration in these communities.
One of the most educated, affluent and diverse counties in Maryland and the entire United States of America needs to stand up and set the example and the pace of the changes necessary to have a positive impact. I have spoken to a good man, a Montgomery County veteran police officer, and he gave me some valuable insight. Why don't we, as a county, step up and show the rest of the country what responsible community policing and police sensitivity looks like? Why not be the voice of thousands of your constituents and demand that the Congress of the great United States of America convene and put in place basic requirements for all police units?
There have been many ideas and agendas set forward, but without the leadership of the Congress, it feels as if these ideas will remain just that, ideas. For example, we should require body and dashboard cameras for all police units, a 21st century community policing program and country-wide retraining, a clear and uniform deadly force policy, special prosecutors for police misconduct allegations, a transparent reporting system for all lethal force incidents including a national database of citizen complaints again police misconduct and, ultimately, an anti-racial profiling law. These are a number of suggestions outlined by many on the front-lines of the movement toward better police enforcement in our communities.
Imagine if instead of Yvette Smith, Eric Garner or Tamir Rice, it was Anna, Nicholas and Alexander. Imagine if Katherine were subject daily to suspicion and covert, or oftentimes overt, racism. Imagine if you yourself were repeatedly subject to "Stop and Frisk" or simply being negatively stereotyped solely based on the way you looked. Wouldn't you demand some sort of justice? Wouldn't you want to see something change? Wouldn't you feel immensely frustrated, tired and helpless? While I would never condone violence as a response, wouldn't you agree that it is a symptom of a community crying out for help?
Protests and marches are not sufficient. Be brave enough to call upon your own constituents and the rest of the nation to rally behind these disenfranchised communities. Create incentives, recognize opportunities and common interests, but most of all, Representative, urge all communities to recognize the very essence of human nature and the words of our founding fathers: that we are all created equal. 50 years have passed since the epitome of a shift in the law of land regarding Blacks and people of color. I hope that you are willing to place yourself at the head of this historic and long overdue moment in history. Please consider my words and the words of so many. And while the media has shifted its attention away from this narrative, I and many other people of color continue to live with these unsettled feelings that have been engrained in our collective psyches. Let us ALL be the change we wish to see in this world.