By Rickey L. Hampton. Sr., For TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com
This national uprising should not come as a surprise on the heels of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery, who was literally hunted down and killed by white men in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, who was killed by police in her own apartment.
But this is about more than the needless deaths of Floyd, Arbery, and Taylor. It is a culmination of acts of violence towards black people that have occurred since the inception of this country.
Botham Jean in Dallas was killed by a white female cop who burst into Jean’s apartment and shot him. Incredibly, she explained that she thought he was in her apartment. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was gunned down by a cop, even though he had his hands up. Eric Garner, who like Floyd, tried to tell his killer that he couldn’t breathe. You have Trayvon Martin and young Tamir Rice, and Jordan Davis, and Ms. Sandra Bland, and Terrence Crutcher, who was gunned down by Tulsa, Oklahoma cop Betty Shelby, who was later cleared.
And of course, most cops are cleared when it comes to killing black people even when the video has captured the incident on tape. I could go on and on and on and on about people of color becoming the victims of violence at the hand of the police or white vigilantes.
But I think, and I hope, this latest travesty is the breaking point. Simply put, black people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Furthermore, good people of all colors, religions, and backgrounds are lending their support.
Black America is tired of being stepped on by this country.
America has never lived up the freedoms promised under the constitution to every man, not just every white man.
Consider that Black America has fought valiantly in every war this country has been a part of. Our ancestors made that sacrifice, only to come back home from war and be treated as second class citizens. Black America has built generational wealth for families on the backs of slavery. Black America has been deprived of educational resources and opportunities, and we always bear the brunt of America’s economic woes. The justice system has never been a place we could go and seek equitableness and fairness.
Even now, the current pandemic has hit our communities the hardest, primarily because we provide many of the vital services America needs to function.
There is simply not enough space to detail the atrocities Black America has felt through the hands of the very government sworn to protect her. The Tuskegee experiment. The bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa. The murder of Emmitt Till. Countless lynchings and massacres like Rosewood, Fla.
Through it all, Black America has waited, mostly non-violently, for America to show us its humanity, justice, and sovereignty.
Four hundred years later, we are still waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
But there is now a generation of young African-Americans who aren’t as patient as those who have come before them. They respect the sacrifice of Dr. King, but they don’t necessarily agree with his approach. They are more in line with Malcolm X’s philosophy of ‘Any means necessary’. They aren’t seeking violence _ as reports are now showing much of the destruction have come from interlopers outside the protest _ but they are will to defend themselves and fight for their freedoms.
So, I understand the need to march and protest. It is the only way Black America has ever earned any of its civil rights. And it is the only way we ever will.