By Sheridan Watkins
I am genuinely concerned. Is America safe? Yes, crime is in every part of the world but why does it seem like many of the psychos reside in our country? We have to worry about too many things that can unnaturally claim our life and it is frightening. I presumed as children grow older, they become less afraid of the world because they become wiser, stronger, and more knowledgeable. But I think it is the knowledge that inputs fear. We realize there is a daunting possibility that we may still struggle with finding success even if we work so hard to achieve it. We realize the world is not fair and bad things happen to good people. We realize we may be murdered even if we have done nothing. And we realize it could be by the ones who were sworn in to protect us. Is it just “a black thing?” I mean, who can we trust?
In case no one has noticed, the past year or so has brought a raised awareness for deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. Notice I say “awareness” and not incidents. These cases are nothing new although it is hard to find a reliable number of just how many black people are killed by police officers, trigger happy white gun nuts or other African Americans. Most murders are perpetrated by someone the victim knows or is related too, therefore the constant finger pointing toward black on black violence is a statistical phenomenon more than a racial or cultural one. If I could compile a list, it would turn into a novel sized tome full of random John and Jane Does. They all matter! It saddens me to write that there will be many families spending their holidays with one less family member due to unnatural causes.
Remember getting those school assignments to go home and ask everyone at the holiday dinner table what they are thankful for? I used to dread them because I did not understand the significance; but this year, I had to take part in the exercise because I really wanted to know what my family would say.
This Thanksgiving, my grandfather said that he is glad he and his family are still alive. And I froze. I knew exactly what he meant. My papa faithfully watches the news and I could tell it has affected him. He prayed with us for a long time for our safety and a fulfilling life for us. He prayed that we have strength to fight our battles and effect change and peace in the world. But one way that it shall never happen is if we stay silent.
What sparked this burst of nationwide protests and demands for change, you ask? Well, us! It was the people who did more than post a simple hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter or #Mizzou. It was the people who supported Moral Mondays and initiated the Black Lives Matter Movement among many other things.
Although it is not my place to express whether I believe the police officers under scrutiny are guilty, I do believe that answers must be sought after and provided. When something does not make sense, it is only right to dig until we find the truth.
Regardless of how we handled these travesties, I would not change any of it because it has finally brought more attention to an issue that is truly as old as dirt. There are too many unanswered questions or vague responses and that is a problem. And when we are angry, we must express it—and it should not lead to our deaths. The protesters in Minneapolis never deserved to be shot for shouting, “black lives matter,” but incredibly, there are people who feel that we do not matter. There are still individuals that hate the black community and other minorities. Black people: How can we get those who think otherwise to believe that we actually matter?
Gil Scott-Heron said, “The revolution will not be televised.” I don’t agree. Awareness is how things have changed. I say televise the protests, the marches, the arrests, the trials, and everything else that has to do with preserving our lives. Televise the killings with no censor! Maybe then it will decrease and finally cease.
I foresee that we still have a long road ahead of us, so this holiday season, proceed with caution—from everyone. Although we do not have the best history with them, not all police officers are crooked and at some point that bridge must be mended.
If you are worried, make sure to always have a camera around and let those everyone know they are being recorded. Don’t worry, I sense a difference and change is happening. Be safe and give love during these holidays and ring in the New Year with bravery, honor, and dignity for all.
Ms. Watkins found her passion for writing at a young age. Reading the fun and mysterious books by Judy Blume and R. L. Stine and watching the news paved the way for her interest in the field of writing and journalism. A native of Charlotte and future alumna of Winston-Salem State University, she strives to “never abandon my community but bring them into my boundless world of thoughts and allow them to see the connection that can be made between one individual and the world.”