Another American Tragedy
by Pastor Robert V. Shipman, Sr. | August 29, 2014
It's bad enough that another man was killed. It's sad that their reporting about the incident is being analyzed, and made to look like the wrongness or rightness of the killing is simply a matter of racial perspective. The only possible good (and this is minor) that may come out of this is the acknowledgment of a constantly denied fact that the basic fabric of our country's social and legal structure is predicated on racism, classism and fear. This is not an indictment of all white or non-African people. It is a fact that remains, regardless of the skin color and culture of the highest officers in the land. The structure in which we work to secure the rights of all people has shown itself historically to be jaded against AFRICAN AMERICANS particularly.
The recent shootings of African Americans (Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown to name a few) and the injudicious ways that the killers were cleared of wrong-doing should alarm every American and serve as a call to action. Our actions must not only include flowers and memorials (as honorable as they are), meetings and public forums where we vent our frustrations; they should include training for those persons in our society who are still afflicted with the "black bogey-man" consciousness. The idea that a black man is dangerous or threatening to a person of another race simply because he is big, or speaks loudly or possesses any other social trait seen as normal in others, but magnified and vilified in African Americans, can only be dispelled when we begin to play a larger role in the intellectual development of how people in this country and across the world understand us.
The truth be told, there are people who are African American that have been mis-educated about their own people, distance themselves emotionally and culturally from us and contribute to the ongoing justification of Black abuse and murder. Not all of them are educated or raised in white institutions. Some are urban misfits who themselves see Black life as worthless or at best expendable, as they seek to gain control of our communities for their own purposes. So whether one has grown up in pristine white neighborhoods that demonize blacks, or whether one has succumbed to the "make it in this world by any means necessary" ideology (even when it means contributing to the creation of a deadly or hostile living environment), Americans collectively must work to stop the violence that targets blacks because they are black. It doesn't matter whether the killer is brown-skinned, white-skinned, black-skinned or clothed in blue, our justice system, and the broader societal attitude that it fosters by its conclusions must see the need for change from fear of blacks and affect that change that is so badly needed to save black life and protect the innocent. We should never feel content to hear the statement, "I felt threatened" from individuals who are armed while their victims are unarmed.
A mother and father will bury their 18-year-old son today. Most cultures would see this young person for what he was, "a child." Did he make bad decisions? Like most of us who have gone through childhood, yes. Should he be made to understand the consequences of his actions? Yes. But, he did not deserve to die! He should not have died. The children of other groups would have had an opportunity to at least correct their young son. Not so, here. These parents who could have taught their son have been deprived of parenting privileges because someone brutalized him. This is our tragedy. It is an American tragedy. If it is justified, maybe it signals the death of the true American soul, which for others espouses "equal protection under the law," but not for African Americans.
We all deserve to live safely. When we cannot secure safety for ourselves, we have laws, local, state and federal governments to help secure us. But, when our security turns against us, when our institutions endorse our extermination and extinction, how tragic is that?
LET US WORK TOGETHER TO END THE VIOLENCE!