TimBookTu Editor's Message

Sick and Tired

The protests that have been occurring in cities across the nation in response to the lack of grand jury indictments of the white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City have galvanized many people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. The lack of justice for the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has left us sick and tired of waiting on America to do the right thing.

It is almost 50 years from the time when protestors hit the streets to stage the Selma to Montgomery March to bring attention to the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a civil rights protestor killed by Alabama State Trooper in 1965, voting rights and other racial injustices. The events following that murder further bolstered the modern Civil Rights Movement that was already underway with its genesis in the murder of Emmett Till and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It took many other events and many years to shake the collective consciousness of America to do the right thing.

One of the blaring themes that sticks out about the protests are the divided viewpoints that fall sharply along racial lines. For those opposing the actions of the protestors, they point to the criminal and illegal activities of both victims as if that gave the cops the right to be the judge, jury and the executioner. The mainstream media demonizes the victims and portrayed each of them as some superhuman beast that couldn't be controlled other than murdering them. Even 12 year-old Tamir Rice, who was gunned down in the Cleveland park because he had a toy gun, was thought to be a grown man by the police.

The media also goes to great strides to characterize everyone who is out protesting as looters or participating in violence. Yes, there were some in Ferguson and a few other places that looted or vandalized property but the overall majority protested peacefully. I condemn the actions of those who looted and vandalized but I also contrast it to the same behavior by mostly white crowds in the aftermath of numerous events such as World Series in 2012, after the Joe Paterno firing in 2011 at Penn State and the Final Four in Lexington, Kentucky this year. There was even a riot by whites after a pumpkin festival in a few months ago in New Hampshire. Rioting and vandalism isn't restricted to just one color or ethnic group.

The fact that the Eric Garner case was captured on video and yet the grand jury didn't find cause to indict the cop who killed him for suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. In these cases and many others across the country, the cops all claimed that they feared for their safety. I've never seen so many instances of supposedly trained and well-armed cops being so afraid of someone that killing the person becomes their only avenue to rectify the situation. What are they doing on a police force if they are so fearful of every black male that walks the street? I'm sick and tired of that being the excuse to gun down unarmed black men.

Many of the feelings that black people have about white cops stem from the behavior and complicity of white police dating back to the past where the police let the Klan and other mobs kill many black people while they turned a blind eye. We now feel that is what these grand juries and prosecutors are doing when one unarmed black man after another is killed right before our eyes. No wonder there is a lack of trust in the police and the judicial system.

A black friend who lives on Staten Island and has first-hand knowledge of conditions that blacks face there expressed his frustration and anger in response to the Garner verdict in a very strong Facebook message that was uncharacteristic of his normal outlook of trying to make a positive difference in the world. Reading his commentary, I fully understood where he is coming from and the feeling of hopelessness in the American justice system. There are many others like him, myself included, that have tried to live the American dream only to realize that it is becoming a nightmare because America still refuses to do the right thing. We are all sick and tired of coming up empty on America's promise.

Many of us have that sinking feeling when we have encounters with white cops even if it's a routine traffic stop, that something terrible could arise in that situation. It doesn't matter what our socio-economic status is, we often get the same suspicious treatment from police when we are "driving while black." We have to be extra sure to not to reach for our credentials without informing the police that we are not reaching for a weapon. Richard Pryor made a joke about "reaching into my pocket for my license" and not becoming "an accident" on his comedy album back in 1974. Forty years later, that situation still is applicable. We are sick and tired of having to deal with racial profiling.

A white friend recently penned a profound Facebook post that encouraged his FB friends, specifically the white ones, to open their eyes and speak up about the injustices that have occurred in our nation. He said that they could take a stand against racism and still maintain their white identity. In his message he said, "It's never the wrong time to do the right thing" prompted the title of this piece. Until we get all those who are silent and uncomfortable to join in the movement for justice, we'll never be the nation that we say we want to be. His call to action reminded me of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" that urged the white clergy of his day to join in the nonviolent fight for justice and not sit on the sidelines. All people, black and white, should be sick and tired of injustice and racism.

I applaud the efforts of those that are staging peaceful protests and disrupting the normal flow of life in cities across America. This is the only way that we will be able to bring more attention to the injustices. Justice has never been given without a fight and it seems that the movement has begun to achieve justice. These protests are the result of the black community and other people of conscious being sick and tired.

© Copyright 2014.
Memphis Vaughan, Jr.
Editor and Publisher, TimBookTu

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