Promise That You Will Sing About Me
More hashtags. More deaths. More funerals and outrage. Less Change. In 1955 Emmett Till was lynched after interacting with a white woman. In February of 1999 Amadou Diallo, a West African immigrant was murdered by police, shot 41 times by Officers Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy. Diallo had no weapon. All officers were acquitted. In November of 2006, Sean Bell was murdered by police on the morning of his wedding. All officers involved were acquitted. In February 2012, youngster Trayvon Martin was followed and murdered by George Zimmerman, a man who modeled himself after the police officers in the neighborhood. Zimmerman was found not guilty. In 2012, Rekia Boyd was murdered by Officer Dante Servin. Servin continues to collect pension after his resignation. In July of 2015 Sandra Bland was arrested for failing to use her turning signal. Three days later, she was found dead in a Texas police station. In 2016, father and boyfriend Philando Castile was murdered in front of his partner and child; Alton Sterling was selling CDs in front of a convenience store and was held down, shot and killed. We have yet to know the verdict and the cases have yet to be argued.
"...Can you tell me why every time I step outside I see my people die..." -Faith Evans
In March of 1956 Mahalia Jackson recorded Take My Hand, Precious Lord. In December of 1964 Sam Cooke sang A Change is Gonna Come after him and his entourage was turned away from a "Whites Only" motel. In the same month and year, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer let us know she was, "sick and tired of being sick and tired". In 1968, James Brown released, Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud. In 1988, NWA rapped Fuck the Police. In 2015 Kendrick Lamar released Alright. And in 2016, Beyoncé belts Freedom with Kendrick Lamar. Music and speech has become a mainstay of movements toward the acquisition of civil rights and we continue to sing their songs.
"...I'm letting you know that it ain't no gun they make that can kill my soul..."
We currently mourn the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and Akai Gurley and Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice. We mourn the murders of Kimani Gray and Travares McGill and Kathryn Johnston. We endure the constant trauma that reminds us that our existence is no more valuable than a smudge on a windshield--annoying and needed to be cleaned quickly, thoroughly. Our judicial system teaches police officers that they are above the law and there will be no recourse or culpability in scenarios like this. These actions permeate our psyche and qualify our existence--reminding us that second class citizenship will always have a seat for us. These instances are deplorable and unacceptable. They say there is nothing new under the sun and in instances like this, it's horrifying to see that this idea applies to race and racism as well. Change comes when the oppressed have been oppressed for far too long. When is our change going to come?
Ruth Jean-Marie is a graduate of New York University where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Global Affairs. Dedicating her life to the alleviation of misery around the world, her greatest goal is to become a superhero. Her interests include fashion, equality for women and Black people--that real equality, not the surface level stuff, traveling around the world and writing. She's excited about life and intends on living it. She also has a mild obsession with shoes, shopping and sharing her opinion. You'll hear all about it. Follow Ruth on Twitter and on Instagram.