This is by far one of the hardest topics for me to write about. Partly because it’s an emotional subject. And partly because I have so many thoughts about this that I can barely type it out in a logical way.
I work for the District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, and I’ve seen several different perspectives towards officer-involved shootings. After the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile I walked into work wondering why black folks weren’t allowed a day off to process. I didn’t want to talk about the shootings. I didn’t want to hear news reporters commenting and often justifying what happened. It felt like I had lost a loved one. In part, this emotion comes from the fact that with the increase in these shootings it could only be a matter of time until it was one of my loved ones. I felt scared. My anxiety was at an all time high. To make matters worse, on my walk back to my car from work I saw a black man getting arrested.
This type of event is one that I believe only black people can truly resonate with. This event is not unique, however, it takes a strong tug at your soul when that black man getting into the cop car may not be here tomorrow. This event is also troubling because, as a black person, you feel guilty. Do I intervene? Do I watch? Do I record it? Do I look at the ground and keep walking? I chose the latter and it had me sick by the time I got to my car.
As I turned the ignition on to go home, I started sobbing.
I hope someone out there can identify with my experience because it’s still one that leaves me confused. What do we do when black men, women and children are killed by law enforcement and there is no consequence? Or even worse, no remorse?
As I drove home I felt like I needed to do something. I know intervening in every officer-involved incident wasn’t a reasonable solution. But I thought about what I could do, and what I could do well. I like asking people questions. I love understanding people. So that’s what I did.
A few months ago, I gathered a few friends, cousins, and acquaintances and asked them their perspectives on the recent officer involved shootings. I wanted to understand how they felt, coming from different backgrounds and life experiences. But more importantly, I wanted to touch at least one person who would not have been exposed to their opinions. I figured if at least one person with no black friends - who believes if you come off as a “threat” to officers you deserve to die, who thinks “Well, they did have weed in their system,” or who thinks we’re exaggerating - watched one of my interviews, hopefully it would get them thinking. Ultimately, I hope that when that person starts thinking they might persuade the mind of someone else and so on.
My first question: “Do you think the recent officer involved shootings are based on racism?” Watch the video here.