Another Black Man Dead

Another black man was killed yesterday. Another black man who should not be dead.

Philando Castille, a 35 year old cafeteria supervisor for the St. Paul, Minnesota school district, was his car, with his fiancé and her 4 year old daughter, when they were pulled over by a policeman because of a busted tail light. When the police officer approached the car, asked Philando whether he knew his tail light was out, he asked for his license and registration papers. Philando informed the officer that he was a registered fire-arm carrier and told the officer he was reaching for his license, which was in wallet, in his back pocket.

The police officer fired four rounds into Philando Castille, killing him on the spot.

Another black man was killed yesterday. Killed almost 48 hours after Alton Sterling was shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A good man, with a gun will never go home again, because he was killed by an officer, sworn to protect and serve.

Interestingly enough, we would not know…really know…the circumstances of Philando’s death, were it not for the fact that his fiancé, in the car with him streamed the garish scene on her Facebook page with her iPhone. We see him, literally bleeding out his life. We see the patrolman, nearly hysterical. We see fiancé, Diamond Reynolds, cooler than anyone has right or reason to be under the circumstances, calmly narrating the incident, leaving the phone on, even as she is ordered out of the car by another patrolman, ordered to the ground with guns drawn on her and she is arrested, as if she’s the criminal.

I’m not certain what to say at this point, other than to say, there is a sickening order to the chaotic randomness of all of this. Unarmed black men being shot down, killed at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. The idea that the black community is to assume, that every one of these men whose lives are lost to us, were so criminal in their lifestyles that they literally deserved to die. That the violence that we see in the aftermath of these horrendous murderous acts, is somehow the response of ‘animals’ whose grief, anger and frustration, simply cannot be understood. That there is no range of improper to proper behavior that is safe, for my nephews, cousins or my daughter’s boyfriend, or my daughter’s husband: if they resist, they can be killed; if they question, they can be killed; if they struggle, they can be killed…if they comply, they can be killed.

The sickening order to the chaotic randomness of it all, there is no range of improper, to proper response by which young (so far) black men can govern themselves. There is no time of day, no region of the country, no day of the week, no set law that they should avoid violating, no way they should dress, no particular company they should keep that can keep them safe. It’s a chaotic randomness, in which the only certainty is that it could happen. Not to white young men, but to young men with black to brown skin…

Where is the NRA? Where are right to carry advocates, espousing their second amendment drivel? Where are the ones who suggest that the reason we should all be carrying guns is for protection against ‘state action’ or ‘the government’?

I’m not sure what the correct response should be. Something’s not right. Something is terribly wrong and America is not listening. I’m haunted by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who tagged America as a ‘ten day nation’. We focus on tragedy for about ten days and then we move on. Dr. King lived before the days of social media. We’re not barely a ten-hour nation now. That is, unless someone kills a gorilla in defense of a child. Or someone suggests shooting wild vicious dogs. Or someone concocts conspiracy theories regarding a parent losing a child to alligators. But let a domestic terrorist kill nearly 50 people in a night club; let some madman kill 22 children and their teachers; let 135 black people get killed by those sworn to protect and serve and we all want to turn away and move on.

I can’t do that…I won’t.

Another black man who should not be dead, was killed yesterday. A good man with a gun, died at the hands of a law enforcement officer, sworn to protect and serve.

Don’t look away…


Alton Sterling Should be Alive Today


Alton Sterling should be alive today.

He should be at the half-way house where he lived. Or having a conversation with his children. Or maybe in front of the Triple S Convenience store selling his CD’s.

But he should be alive.

Instead, Alton Sterling is dead. Shot by a police officer in an incident sparked by an anonymous caller that purported that Sterling had been acting in a ‘threatening’ manner.

The facts are well-known. Alton Sterling, was allegedly tased, then as he was thrown over the hood of a car, then to the ground, one of the officers said, ‘He’s got a gun.’ After which another officer, pulls out his service weapon, firing at least four times at point black range, while they had Sterling pinned to the ground.

I believe all black people are as angry about this as I am. That could be true. Maybe it’s not. But Alton Sterling did not go home on July 5th. Instead he became a statistic: Sterling’s death makes him one of between 122 -135 black people killed by police to date.

Protests have begun. As have calls for the resignations of the chief of police and the mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Justice Department is being called in to investigate and right now, all the right things are being said by people in power.

But I, along with millions of other black people in this country, are waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s the way it always happens. A black man dies unarmed, allegedly resisting arrest and there are immediate speculation as to how he was complicit in his own demise. We are all set to hear the ‘thugification’ of Alton Sterling and the vilification of the Black Lives Matter movement (of course, all lives matter – but we seem to be the only ones losing our lives). The people who do that, are those who seek to so objectify the victim and so distance themselves from any sense of guilt, responsibility, compassion or empathy, so that they can live with it by saying, ‘It’s all they’re fault’.

There will be the perverse litany of ‘reasons’ why Alton’s death was all his fault:

He was an ex-con

Why was he out so late

He shouldn’t have attacked them; he asked for it

What was he doing there; why wasn’t he at home

The problem is on the night he was killed. On the night that Alton Sterling’s life was brutally snatched from him, he just didn’t deserve to die. Not that way. Not pinned down and shot at point-blank range. Not at the hands of police who are sworn to ‘protect and serve’.

Alton Sterling should be alive today…