• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • July 8, 2016 in Columnists

    Until black lives truly matter, all lives matter is mere hypocrisy

    Instead of feeling protected by police, many African Americans are intimidated and live in daily fear that their children will face abuse, arrest and death at the hands of police officers who may be acting on implicit biases or institutional policies based on stereotypes and assumptions of black criminality.
    A letter released by Sociologists for Justice

    Facebook is a universe and what happens there is real — and a reflection of the real world it represents. So it was on this day of anguish just after two beautiful lives were snuffed out by police brutality and hysterical overreaction that my darling cousin, Chet, posted this article (http://usuncut.com/black-lives-matter/minnesota-police-shooting-traffic-stop/ ) about the killing of Philando Castile in front of his love, Diamond Reynolds, and her tiny child after a stop for a broken taillight – which wasn’t actually broken in the first place.

    Immediately there was push back from an individual who felt that nobody should have to see images this graphic — that it desensitizes people and possibly exposes children to seeing such.

    My take on the kids is that any child too young to see this shouldn’t be on Facebook and those old enough are old enough to know what’s going on because they’re going to have to be part of the solution.

    Real violence doesn’t desensitize me. It resensitizes me. Fictional violence desensitizes me to fictional violence. Real violence brings the trauma and horror right up front and center. I watched a beautiful young man clearly dying — gasping, barely conscious. I saw his love trying so hard to stay calm because she wasn’t out of danger yet and her little one was right there, in danger as well. I watched the footage later as she unleashed her rage and grief, as she shared the horrific treatment she got right after her beloved was murdered — handcuffed, separated from her baby, left without food or drink for hours. A white woman would have been consoled and helped through the trauma.

    I’m sensitized, alright. I’m sensitized to the bone. My heart hurts. I’m swinging wildly between grief and rage. Watching Ms. Reynolds’ anguish. Watching Alton Sterling’s teenage son collapse into the arms of a nearby friend, sobbing helplessly, I wanted to fall to the floor weeping as well (http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/07/06/family-of-alton-sterling-speak-out-nr.cnn/video/playlists/alton-sterling-shot-in-baton-rouge/ ). And I wanted to beat the very life out of the people who caused it — badly trained, hysterical cops who shoot before they think and target black men at easily twice the rate of anyone else. Yet I can’t go forth and harm them — that would make me no better.

    But no, I am not going to look away. In fact, I’m not a person who even can. To me, looking away is another abandonment when life has already abandoned that person. So as agonizing as it is, I don’t look away and I don’t believe in censoring posts — or news articles — that hold the reality of the world up to people so they can’t just burrow their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. I guarantee you, the men killed, the women and families who loved them — they would have loved to pretend it doesn’t exist, but they weren’t afforded that luxury.

    The truth is, censoring these anguishing, shocking events is a very effective way to keep people from caring enough to do something about them. It was a canny — if disgustingly cynical and underhanded — decision of Bush Jr not to show any graphic details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and to forbid the media to show the row after row of coffins being shipped back home. Why? Not to spare us, but because it was during the Vietnam War, for the first time, we were shown the graphic details of the battles, the dead, the injured — and the full extent of their injuries — and the sheer number of coffins — and that exposure, like ripping a bandaid off an abscess we didn’t even know we had — was the prime mover in getting the US public to rise up and say NO MORE. No, Bush Jr wanted us carefully distanced and numbed so we wouldn’t inconveniently get in the way of his illegal war.

    Keeping these images suppressed allows us to stay at an emotional distance and that emotional distance, in turn, allows us to remain indifferent and do nothing. But it is our circus and those are our uniformed monkeys and it’s absolutely our responsibility and even sacred duty to rise up and say NO MORE. Because until Black Lives Matter, “all lives matter” is no more than a bitter hypocrisy.



    • We were on the same vein today, you and me. And I agree – putting the horror in full view on social media may be THE thing that brings about change. We should never avoid the truth. The videos don’t lie.

        • Maya North

        • July 8, 2016 at 2:08 pm
        • Reply

        And we must never turn away or we become even more a part of the problem.

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