By Jess Washington, CEO of Dallas Weekly
I saw the headlines. And like so many Black Americans, I sat and watched with anger and hopelessness. I’m tired of being tired….
Not just from trauma of police brutality that I have witnessed in my own life, but also what I inherited from generations before me.
I don’t have to reference any statistics about institutionalized racism and the normalcy of it in America from inception. We live in a world where the truth is readily available and accessible. To say “you didn’t know” isn’t believable anymore. But the real question is: how can a country born off oppression and institutionalized racism change its DNA to reflect equality and acceptance for all? I think we need to come to terms with the harsh reality that it can’t and won’t.
The fact that the 5 officers involved in Tyre Nichols murder were all Black did not surprise me at all. But what struck me most was the shock (non-black) Americans had towards the suspects. For generations, many Black Americans have witnessed brutality from those who attain even the slightest of power. We saw this back when slave catchers hired Blacks to capture their own people. We saw this during the civil rights movement when the FBI and other organizations hired Blacks as spies to destroy the efforts of freedom fighters. Even recently in my own neighborhood of South Dallas, I have witnessed Black cops treat members in the community like sh*t simply because they could. And now we’re seeing it again.
I’m somewhat triggered by the death of Nicols because my first “run in” with a police officer was also in Memphis, TN. I was 8 years old riding my bike in my own neighborhood and a Black cop stopped me over to ask what I was doing. His mission was to shame me and not knowing the wiser, it worked. I ran home crying and once I told my parents what happened, I could see how saddened they were. Here I was a 4th grader, and my parents had to explain “the police. And now 32 years later, I look at my son and become riddled with anxiety at the thought of a police officer harming him. I seriously can not fathom what so many mothers like RowVaughn Wells is going through right now.
Many police chiefs across the country are on a press tour condemning the actions of the 5 police officers involved in the crime. Even Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia shared a video on his empathy for the community. They want people to be calm and peaceful but I don’t think, especially at this point, that it is a fair request. Remaining calm and peaceful is the reason nothing has changed. Staying the course is why this hole keeps getting deeper and any notion of a solution gets lost in the wind. Not taking the time to examine the entire police & prison institution is simply neglecting to admit that the institution themselves are the issue…. Because it’s certainly not the taxpayers and community members fault.
You’ll have to forgive my lack of faith.
I’m tired of being tired. We all are.