If i was a pastor in Americaland this coming Sunday, my sermon would definitely contain the words ‘If i die in police custody’ which is a trending hashtag on The Twitterer right now.
TAKE A MOMENT WITH THAT. #IfIDieInPoliceCustody
Last Friday, a black woman was returning home from a job interview in Waller County, Texas, when she was stopped by police after failing to properly signal a lane change. Two days later, she was dead in a jail cell, and Black Twitter wants to know why. [Dexter Thomas, Black Twitter demands answers: What happened to #SandraBland?]
In fact, just take five minutes to log in to your Twitterer account and search for the hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody and read what is going on there:
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody don’t let them tell the world who I was. You tell the world who I was. #IfIDieInPoliceCustody it had nothing to do with my pants sagging, rap music, or black on black crime. Don’t let them derail. #IfIDieInPoliceCustody is a trending hashtag.
Let that sink in.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody IS TRENDING.
People are afraid. Change is needed.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody don’t try 2 use my background and education to say I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t deserve it without degrees either
And on and on it goes… with this one by Michaela Angela Davis perhaps coming closest to summing it all up.
I actually can’t take the realness of
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody right now so many young Blk people prepping for that possibility is so painful
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Next thing you know, people are once again adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and it won’t be long before a ‘well-meaning’ white person jumps on to reinvigorate #AllLivesMatter as a direct response.
Of course all lives matter, that should go without saying. The reason #BlackLivesMatter keeps coming back is because white people are not feeling the need to write tweets under the hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody.
LET THAT SINK IN.
We don’t need to. Because, for the most part, if a white person is arrested and put in prison, the likely scenario is that we deserved to be there. We weren’t put behind bars [and whatever else might follow and need to be ‘explained’ or justified later] because of our whiteness. People of colour don’t have that luxury.
So yes, All Lives Matter, but the ones that seem to be needing more fighting done for them in Americaland right now are the black ones [and other minority groups] and so #BlackLivesMatter – deal with it.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody tell the media to use the 1st pic and not the 2nd
King Fee speaks to the reality of pictures used by the media whenever a person of colour is arrested, put in jail or killed. It is far easier for us to feel like he deserved it when we see the drug smoking ‘thug’-image poster on the right than if the story of another death is accompanied by a guy wearing a suit looking all cleaned up.
The hashtag is also filled with tweets talking about people struggling with depression or being a veteran [don’t let them say it was my PTSD] begging not to let any of those reasons be used as the reason for ‘my suicide’. In fact tweet after tweet down the line echoes the cries of black people saying ‘if I die in police custody, know that i didn’t commit suicide.’
THERE BE ANGER
Then there are the angry tweets. The ones calling for violence. These are harder to read and take in. My gut reaction is, ‘No, you can’t do that. You have to show them you are better. You have to respond peacefully.’
Yet week after week as yet another incident happens, typically involving white police officers and people of colour and a new hashtag trends to be replaced by the new one before it has even grown cold, then even though i absolutely don’t condone the violence, i start in part to understand the anger and the calls for it.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody blow up the nearest police prescient. #IfIDieInPoliceCustody: do everything possible to make them wish that I didn’t, and bring all nine circles of Hell to their doorstep.
YOU STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND?
If there are any white people who have gotten this far and still don’t understand [i imagine if you don’t then you likely haven’t gotten this far], this excellent article shared with me by my friend Megan Furniss, is one of the best pieces i have read on this, especially the powerful last paragraph:
Risk the Truth: There was a Suicide – by Abe Lateiner
Seriously, read that one, and there are so many other powerful posts around that if you realise the seriousness of this all and the need to catch up a little, here are two more powerful pieces worth giving yourself time to really digest.
i don’t think we have the same story in South Africa as in Americaland right now. But i feel like there are some strong overlaps. And it has felt important to me for a long time to keep an eye on what is going on over there to somehow be able to understand a little bit better some of the principles and machinations of what is going on over here in our stories. i feel completely helpless in terms of being able to make any difference to the people of colour in Americaland, but i do want them to know that i am an ally and if using my blog can potentially help open the eyes and then actions of one more white person, and hopefully then white people, well then that is one small step in the right direction.
We need to hear the cries of our black brothers and sisters and if they don’t feel like brothers and sisters, then we need to be reaching out and seizing opportunities for deeper relationship, because perhaps the moment they move from ‘people of colour’ to ‘my friend and my family’, perhaps then i will be more urgent about getting off my butt and doing something that actually makes a difference.
it feels like there is still so much more to say, but i don’t know if i’m the equipped to say it well, so i’ll keep reading and sharing and rallying and praying and hoping… and i’ll end off with two more tweets that no doubt will punch you in the face, like they did me…
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody put on my tombstone, “Arrest in peace”
Elderly White people write wills. Young Black kids tweet