August 9, 2020
Seven shots rang out, a half dozen or so police cars, detectives, ambulances, and a fire truck rolled up a block away. Knowing immediately that another shooting had taken place mere yards away – it dawned on me that all of the protesting and marching in the world can’t proclaim or make true a reality that it’s hard for even the most ardent supporters to believe. If Black Lives Matter so much why do they seem so indispensable to us?
The year started off with the tragic murder at the corner bodega 1 Dead 2 Injured in Mid-day Shooting. Seven months later, thousands of protesters marching to end police brutality, youngsters literally taking it to the streets, and on Sunday evening, at 6:59 PM the eerie sound of gunshots rang through the neighborhood at the intersection of 24th and Franklin Streets NE. I heard Rev Al Sharpton during a recent speech, plead to an audience that if we want anyone else to believe Black lives matter – we have to stop the violence against ourselves. In the heat of the moment that makes perfect sense. But it’s deeper than that. We have to get past whether Black lives matter and understand that Black lives have value!
I don’t know what happened to cause one person to roll up on another and decide that firing seven shots at them was the answer. Nor, do I know why it continues to happen in my neighborhood, which on the surface is mainly quiet and unassuming. But when you devalue something it becomes an “it”. It needs to be dealt with. It needs to be put down.
The only “it” we should be focusing on is the “it” that has allowed a pandemic to sweep through our neighborhoods and people of color. The “it” that puts us on the front lives as “essential workers” while they rest and work comfortably from home. The same “it” that now threatens to cut off much-needed relief and financial support to get the nation through the pandemic “it” allowed to spread further than any other country. The same “it” that says a white person with a high school diploma is worth more economically and financially than a person of color with an advanced degree. Or maybe it’s the “it” that keeps people of color from accumulating generational wealth.
If we can’t stop shooting or killing each other, can we at least get a moratorium or temporary cease-fire and focus our target on the real enemy and causes of our anguish? Cause, believe me, we’ve been killing each other for a couple of generations now and it really hasn’t worked. The late Representative Elijah Cummings was often quoted with the the phrase “we’re better than this”. It’s time to prove it.