Yesterday (as reported on our site here and here), a week after a grand jury in Missouri decided not to indict the white cop who shot and killed Michael Brown, Americans were given another stunning example of the race issues in our country. In July, unarmed African-American Eric Garner was chokeholded by white NYC police on Staten Island. He died as a result of that action. The scene was captured in full on video. As Jon Stewart pointed out in a furious monologue last night, the Garner case was even more cut and dry than that of Michael Brown. Even the local coroner called it a homicide. But still, the grand jury refused to indict the cop.
What will come from these shocking decisions, the outrage throughout our country? If recent history is any indication, probably nothing. We couldn’t get even a modicum of gun control passed two years ago after twenty children were gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut. True, we had the mighty gun lobby to contend with, but still—if there were ever going to be political will on anything, you’d have thought it would have been on that.
When it comes to race, our leaders barely have the will to talk about the situation, and that’s with a black president. No doubt President Obama will have press conferences about our racial problem for the next couple months. Maybe we’ll have members of the Garner or Brown family at the State of the Union. But the question is, will anything actually come of it? Anything at all?
Today, African-Americans from all over the country have begun to post their own stories of profiling, harassment and discrimination on Twitter under the hashtag “AliveWhileBlack”. One after another offers striking examples of the need for not just well-worded political indignation, but concrete action and change.
“Crossing the grocery store parking lot. Cops stopped to ask me what I was doing there. I was holding grocery bags.” @Karnythia #AliveWhileBlack
“Hit over the head with a flashlight because I didn’t RESPOND quickly enough when asked a question. I was 13 at the time.” @KEFABE63 #AliveWhileBlack
“Walking to school at 12. Harassed by 2 cops every day for weeks. Complete with racial slurs.” @Karnythia #AliveWhileBlack
“was robbed at knife point in Charlotte. When the police came, told them what was taken, they asked ‘Why wld u have a pager’” @missjia #AliveWhileBlack
“17 y/o—Drove to Kroger to get mom Nyquil. Pulled over unexplained. Asked why I was in my neighborhood. 4 backup cop cars.” @AkilahObviously #AliveWhileBlack
“Patted down on the hood of a cop car at 9 yrs old.” @daniecal #AliveWhileBlack
"was pulled over by a white cop for missing tags; he came to my door with his gun drawn, finger on trigger." @elonalone #AliveWhileBlack
“Pulled over w my mom. People think shes white, she was driving. Cops asked for my ID and license ‘for her protection’.” @ProfessorBLove #AliveWhileBlack
“Was working in retail & picked up a shift at another store. security guard profiled me over the walkie when i walked in.” @chescaleigh #AliveWhileBlack
“In HS. Cops accuse my fam of stealing a lady’s purse at JCPenney—threaten my mom—purse was in bottom of lady’s stroller.” @LaurenASands #AliveWhileBlack
“I didn’t return ‘free lunch’ form because my dad made too much money. Teacher said loudly: ‘Oh, so you know him?’” @RLM_3 #AliveWhileBlack
“Ex bf was waiting 4 me outside my home. I come out he’s surrounded by cops while on the ground. He ‘looked suspicious.’” @iamlegend924 #AliveWhileBlack
“Constantly asked if I’m lost or in the right room when attending committee meetings at my job.” @KeylaRosa_ #AliveWhileBlack
“they tried to charge my mom with disorderly conduct because she was pissed i got accused of stealing a bike she bought.” @CAMLAHEY #AliveWhileBlack
“My father was pulled over for speeding while he was on his way to the ER...The cop didn’t believe he was a doctor.” @StephhLane #AliveWhileBlack