July 7, 2016

We Used to Send Postcards

I pretend to be a tourist and poke around in one of the mall’s tourist kiosks. The tri-level display turnstile is adorned with them – postcards. Postcards tourists will send back home or save as keepsakes. The scenes vary, but all highlight landmarks and historical markers.

The messages vary, but the common sentiment woven throughout is We’re having fun in and we’re kinda proud of it.

Seems we’ve been sending postcards for darn near an eternity.

Even when scenes and messages were dark.

Men, women and children posed around mangled human beings.

How cold does one’s blood have to had run to purchase these picture postcards, buy postage and mail them to friends and family?

To say We’re having fun and we’re proud of it?

To willingly be captured in these scenes, to willingly be closely associated with the inhumanity and hate mustered to create these scene in the first place.

I’d like to think we are better and more sophisticated than that now, but I’m beginning to believe the only thing better and more sophisticated about us is the technology we use to record inhumanity. Now we capture it by cell phone video, dash cam or body cam.

But the result is the same.

More often than not, we see a human being in the process of dying – right in front of our eyes. Often – too often – it’s a brown human being whose life is expiring during police encounters when they are: selling cigarettes, running, lying dead in the street, sleeping in a park, selling CDs or driving with a broken taillight.

And now, we’re even privy to dying cries and heartbreaking last words:
I can’t breathe
Help me, I need help
Why am I being arrested
Officer, why did you shoot me
I’m just reaching for my ID, sir

Our new postcards even come with rationale for scenes and sounds:
They should’ve complied.
They had a record.
There was more to it than we know.
What about black on black crime
That's only one side of the story.

As a brown person who has brown and white friends and family, and as a human being, the rationales fall flat on my ears and in my heart.

There is no degree of incompliance, no record long enough, no evidence stacked high enough, no story complex enough, or no false equivalency to justify or distract from the killing of a human being.

Right in front of our eyes.

I don’t claim to know what the solutions are, and I don’t know how to help people understand.

I’m just flummoxed, sad and drained…and tired of our postcards.

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