I planned to write a blog post about what I was most thankful about over the last year. But the reality is that I am most thankful to be ALIVE.
Yes, I am thankful to be alive, and not dead, shot, or in jail.
I am thankful that I am not near a terrorist attack and in a “safe country”, and I don’t have to depend on the generosity of “Christian” nations to secure my safety from living in a war torn country.
I have never thought about my life in terms of being thankful for simply being alive or not being fearful if I see a cop driving by more than ever at any point in my life. I have been in dangerous situations, but to some extent, I at least had a hand in being present in those situations.
In today’s time, I can do nothing, and be in danger, and to some extent this might have always been true, but I know it now more than ever.
Last week, as I drove through the highways and byways to Houston, Texas, I couldn’t help but think of Sandra Bland, who drove similar roads this past summer, but to her demise. As I saw the signs for Waller County, there was a pit in my stomach, and I clutched the steering wheel a little tighter, and focused on the road a little harder. It was late. I was thankful to be ALIVE.
I have similar feelings now when I simply drive at night, my hands clinch the wheels tight when I see the 5-0 drive by, I am just thankful to be alive, that at any instance, at the wrong time and place, my life could be taken from me.
And November 24 in 2015 was just a day full of this reminder.
Our freedom of speech and to protest was challenged on Monday night at a Black Lives Matter event in Minnesota. There were people there who wanted to silence the Movement, and opened fire on protesters who were trying to simply remove them peacefully. Five protesters were shot, but luckily, none of the wounds were fatal. The worst part is that the authorities had been alerted about the very real threat from the white supremacists. (source) I guess the recent history of the Black Lives Matter movement has allowed the police to forget the very real threat white supremacists are. They are the only ones in the equation who have been mass murderers, let’s not forget that.
And again, you see why I am thankful to be ALIVE.
How did we get here?
Is it because we elected our first Black President of the United States, and hate groups almost doubled by 2011. In 2000, there were 602. In 2011, the number of hate groups were at its peak at 1,018. The research shows that it decreased to 939 in 2013, but does it matter, when it is open season on people of color more publicly than ever? (source). The list of black women and men killed by police continues to increase. The undertones of corruption are out in the public, and the world is watching.
Yesterday, on November 24, 2015, it was the one year anniversary of Darren Wilson walking away Scot free. I think I will forget this day from this point on, but it made me stop and ponder how he not only is free, but ALIVE. His family doesn’t have to mourn, doesn’t have to watch his killer go free, and his life be vilified as if he was the perpetrator and not really a victim. Because he is not considered a menace to society, our unarmed black men and women are.
And then the footage was released of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald. (source)
He was shot 16 times.
Of the 15 seconds it took for the officers to shoot McDonald, 13 seconds of those seconds, he was on the ground. It took 2 seconds to take him down.(source) It is confirmed that McDonald had a knife, but he was walking away, not even running away, he was literally walking away. Last time I checked, having a knife, and walking away from the Police is definitely not the behavior that requires 16 shots into anyone’s body, well, unless you’re a young black man in the city of Chicago.
The Cook County State Attorney made these remarks, “To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is simply disturbing and I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.” (source)
Just Chicagoans. What about America? Why isn’t everyone getting upset? Everyone should be upset.
But between openly racist presidential candidates and supporters, it’s no surprise.
I do want to mention one thing I am not thankful for. I am not thankful that black people can rally to buy Patty Labelle’s pies, an estimated 2.3 million sold yet we cannot boycott mass media for not covering the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March or boycott establishments that continue to discriminate against minorities because they carry that fresh gear that we so desperately must have. Morever, “With over $1.2 trillion dollars in annual spending power, the black community has an opportunity to not only enjoy Pattie’s pies, but also enjoy some financial control over the future, create jobs, businesses and funds to help make our communities better.” (source) – but we miss that lesson every time. So while we continue to not pull our resources together, I am at least going to continue to be thankful to be alive.
I shouldn’t have to worry about my life, my family’s life, and every other black boy and girl’s life in America in 2015. But I do, and we will, because we have not reached Martin’s dream. I know many black people think that we have arrived, and some of us have with our white picket little fences, but our American Dream is not the same. We thought we had to have equality in our schools, in our jobs, and all the way up to becoming the President of the United States, but the equality that we are really searching for, will always be about OUR LIFE. From the beginning in America our life has been considered less. We came over here worth 3/5ths of a human life, and were still fighting that same fight today. It doesn’t matter if “some” of us are seen as equals, we have to fight that ALL of us are considered equal that Laquan’s life is equal or we will continue to have to be thankful to just to be alive.
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You can read more from Jackie-Monroe at missingperspective.com