This is for all the white people who claim that they are not racist. For the white people who claim to disagree with state-sanctioned murder. For the white people who say they understand privilege. For the white people who say all these things but are still silent in these moments.
At 12:35 am on July 6, 2016, a little over 24 hours after we finished celebrating “Independence Day,” Louisiana police executed Alton Sterling. Sterling sold CDs outside of a local convenience store and had recently acquired a gun after a friend was robbed doing the same job. Louisiana is an open carry state. Police allegedly received an anonymous call that stated Sterling had threatened someone with a gun. When they arrived, they subdued Sterling and while he laid on his back they shot him five times.
I’ll say that again, police officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, shot a restrained man five times. They executed a man in public with no hesitation. The officers body cameras magically came off and the convenience store surveillance video was confiscated.
In August 2014 after the death of Michael Brown, I wrote a post entitled “Why White Moms Need To Care About Murdered Black Children“. In the post, I stated the following
“I am tired of the silence of mothers of other races on this subject because they are too afraid to delve into race. I am tired of the only lives being valued having little to no melanin. These are BOYS dying… BOYS being killed because their very existence makes GROWN WHITE MEN fearful. What if these were white teenage boys? What if it was your fiance gunned down the night before your wedding? What if it was your boyfriend/father of your child shot while handcuffed and laying face down? Would it matter then? Would there be national days of silence or calls for changes to gun reform across the blog sphere for those people? Or are guns only bad when used on innocent white children?
Your silence makes me not trust you. Your silence makes me feel like you do not care about the future of my brown boy. Your silence breaks my heart.
Aside from the fact that I consider some of the people who have been silent on this issue friends, I’m urging white moms to stand up because and this is gonna sound harsh…
Because simply put your fathers, husbands, and sons are killing our fathers, husbands, and sons.”
When I wrote that post, some of the comments were vicious. People accused me of being “racist” against white moms. They told me I had a victim mentality. The arguments became so vicious that I turned off the comments feature. I’ve since lost count of the number of times I’ve shared that post and I’ve lost count of the number of Black people who have been killed by the police with no justice rendered.
In a way, I thought I had become numb to the killings and hashtags. I figured after Tamar Rice’s execution another shooting wouldn’t bother me as much. I mean it can’t get any harder than watching a 12-year-old boy in a playground alone being gunned down by the state. Until it did…
Every time I see the name Alton Sterling, I see my husband’s name. Every time I hear the name Alton Sterling, I hear my son’s name. Yes, the “S” stands for Sterling. I swore I would never watch another state-sanctioned execution after Tamar Rice but I couldn’t help it this time. I had to watch. I had to see the last minutes of this man’s life because he shares a name with the two of the people I love dearly.
So, I watched the video. I laced up my son’s shoes and sent him outside, so I could watch the video. I heard the gunshots and started to shake. I watched #AltonSterling‘s arm shake after he was shot and then I looked at his shoes. His shoes look like my son’s shoes. The shoes I laced up minutes prior to watching the video.
A man was murdered around the same time I was up changing my son’s sheets because he wet the bed. A man was murdered whose last name is the same as my son and husband’s first name. A man was murdered in the same type of shoes my son wore to ride his bike outside this evening during a break in the rain. A man was murdered by public servants that are supposed to protect us.
Now what? Is this going to be the death that breaks the proverbial camel’s back? Have enough Black and Brown people with #hashtags across their faces popped up on your newsfeed over the last two years for you to finally be ready to listen?
Maybe now you can hear us….
Can you hear us crying?
Can you hear our rage?
Can you hear our fear?
Can you hear our hushed tones at the dinner table discussing the latest state-sanctioned murder, while we try to shield our children from the reality of being Black in America?
Can you hear me when I tell you that white mom privilege is a thing?
Can you hear the children crying because their fathers are gone?
Can you hear the mothers and fathers weeping because their children are gone?
Can you hear me when I ask you to diversify your children’s bookshelves, so they see people who look like my family outside of the media?
Can you hear us when ask you to stop being silent at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when your family or friends say prejudiced comments?
Can you hear me telling you that every time the news says Alton Sterling, I will hear my husband and son’s name?
Can you hear us, now?
If you can hear us, or you really want to hear us, please join me and other parents in our efforts to make a difference over at Raising an Advocate.