While many things have brought Americans together—such as World War II, 9-11, and any mass murders in this country such as the most horrific ones in Las Vegas in October of 2017 and Orlando in June of 2016, there are also things that tear Americans apart — such as politics and very particular politicians, police brutality, and racism, most particularly the hate in some hearts toward blacks in particular leading to events such as the one culminating in the death of George Floyd. While it is not planned, sometimes a person’s death becomes a symbol of injustice, a rallying cry for equality that has gotten lost in the shuffle over the years, if indeed it has ever been found.
We can sometimes attribute that kind of racial hatred to the so-called white supremacist and those who go about stirring up racial discord wherever they can. And there are also those who hate everything about this country, such as the Antifa activists, whose “job” it is to stir up division between the races and also do its part to show the blacks that “they need to know their place and stay in it, unless they’re looking for trouble,” which the hate-mongers will be happy to inflict upon them. And very sad is the fact that sometimes those who hate blacks the most will gravitate toward the kind of jobs that will offer them the opportunity to inflict harm, pain or misery upon them.
How can any caring human being, white or black, look at what happened and not be moved by what Mr. Floyd went through, and also, not feel some version of outrage at the officer who had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, as well as toward the officers who were there and said and did nothing to stop that knee-hold of death.
On the other hand, we may wonder how a black man grew up without being taught to never argue with or ignore the requests or demands from a police officer, since it is clear that their plan is always to win, whatever it takes. We’ve seen it time and time again. And their badges and guns and maybe even their numbers at the time only buoy up their macho man attitudes. Not that all police officers are guilty of overstepping their bounds or being far more heavy-handed than they need to be, but how did any officer ever get to the point where having someone down and even in handcuffs still required more to subdue him?
How is it that when there are four officers, and the suspect is already in cuffs and on the ground that one of those “brave and trustworthy” officers felt the need to subdue the suspect way beyond any imaginable need while the other three cohorts looked on in apparent agreement?
Several issues ago, I wrote about how black men have to teach their sons (especially) how to grow up black in a more or less white society, and I got the information for that article directly from a black father who taught his son how not to draw attention to himself and how to get out of any confrontation with the police alive. It is unfortunate and sad that there have to be “rules” for young black boys that do not, as a rule, have to apply to young white boys, but apparently there are.
It’s not that the blacks are in need of more restraint, but perhaps they know that once the police have their hands on them, they may end up dead — as has happened so many times. This is why the black youth need to learn — maybe more than anyone — that they must never argue, fight, look like they’re reaching for a gun (which could be anything, but will always be assumed to be a weapon), and must instantly, to the extent they are able, obey the commands of the officer. Often the black person in this situation may well be guilty or at least look suspiciously guilty, and the officer will need to question him, so you can’t blame the officer for trying to make sure his own life will not be in danger during this process. But overkill is always too much. We might never know how George was involved with that counterfeit $20 bill, but once he got “caught,” he might’ve guessed what would happen.
Yet here we go again! The police are way too heavy-handed; the suspect — guilty or not — ends up losing his life over a relatively paltry crime (even though it was a federal offense — passing counterfeit money); the entire community is outraged because of one more black man’s death due to the brutality of a cop; the race agitators who don’t like to miss a single opportunity to make things worse somehow get the word and show up and DO make things worse; there is rioting and pillaging in the streets; cars set on fire; broken store windows and the looting of those stores — all this at the worst possible time, not only in the middle of a pandemic, but just before what could have been the opening up again of the businesses that were slowly dying.
The riots might have now guaranteed that some stores will never be resurrected and open for business again. But the looters will be carrying away their loot thinking they at least got away with something of value… while not even realizing that they have been destroying the real value that lies in their community.
And some of those rioters and looters may well have been outsiders that were paid to go there and stir up as much more discord as they could.
People will always say we cannot let this happen again; people are always looking for ways to get justice for the oppressed and disproportionately harassed-unto-death black men who suffer, yet it never does look like that justice is found. I just discovered the existence of a book written by a black man, Damon Young, which I have not yet read, but the title is both sad and intriguing: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker.
When one is filled with the anger and sadness and rage over such a tragedy, one often does not think clearly and justice generally means the one involved in the death or tragedy must pay, even if in truth, it was not his fault or the death could not be helped. All the surviving victims feel is the pain and the need for some kind of justice—which can often be vengeance rather than justice. Yet all of us on the outside looking in must understand all that pain, collected over many years of suffering and enduring and find a way to get at the heart of it; to train our police officers what not to do as well as what to do, and how to better evaluate situations and diffuse things way before they could lead to such outcomes.
Remember, before things got out of hand there were peaceful protestors. I wish that the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. could have been with them and stayed with them through the end. Instead, the anger that often wells up in any of us who feel we have been wronged, or see an injustice done, spread out across the country, with many others carrying on the theme that started in Minneapolis. It was sparked in Las Vegas, L.A., Washington, Orlando, New York and other places.
Someday when we all live in the best of all possible worlds (don’t hold your breath), we will not even need police decked out in all that gear just to check on a demonstration. In fact, chances are, by then, there will not be any need to demonstrate since fairness and equality will be the coins of the day between the black and white races.
It is truly sad and more than disturbing to know that there are those who not only have hate in their hearts, but they actively spread that hate wherever they go; stirring up reasons for any white person to hate any black person and demonstrating their hate for this country.
They have websites and blogs and take the tiniest bit of doubt and turn it into a raging inferno of hate for blacks in general. I guess we haven’t come nearly far enough since the old West when people felt that way toward the “Indians.” But we might’ve forgotten how they were treated.
Why will some people always be so willing to hate? Jesus was all about love, and we will not enjoy eternity with him if we cannot learn to love our fellowmen.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.