One day, we may look back on this summer as the time when our nation resolved it would no longer tolerate racialized policing. The time when we took the first concrete action to change the way law enforcement agencies engage communities of color. When we reminisce, perhaps we will scratch our heads and wonder what took so long for us to even acknowledge the problem.
Many of us will be proud to say that we were there and helped do it. Together.
No matter what the coming days hold, let us never forget the lives lost to one of the most horrific manifestations of institutionalized racism. Dear Ally for Justice, step back and allow space for people affected by discriminatory policing to grasp and discuss the real possibility that they, too, could become a hashtag one day. Let’s listen openly and refrain from derailing these dialogues by centering other policy agendas.
Most importantly, let’s be mindful. Black Lives Matter is an affirmation of equality, not a demand for supremacy. This outcry is not preceded by an invisible “only,” nor does it exclude other, unspoken lives. If you’re tired of hearing and seeing Black Lives Matter, be thankful that your survival does not depend on this pledge becoming a reality.
I N M E M O R I A M
Philando Castile, 32, had worked for the St. Paul, MN public school system since the age of 19. Recently promoted to a supervisory position in Nutrition Services, he was working as a cafeteria manager at the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School at the time of his murder.
The kids called him “Mr. Phil.” In the words of a co-worker, “Kids loved him. He was smart, overqualified, … quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’”
On the news of his death, a parent wrote, “Every day he fist-bumped my kids, even when they were acting up. He knew every single [student] by name, pushed extra food in them like a grandma, and sneaked extra graham crackers into my son’s bag because [he] got a kick out of it. My borderline autistic son hugged him every day….This was a good man.”
Alton Sterling, 37, was raised by his aunt, Sandra Sterling, who called the large, jovial man a “generous giant.” The father of five children, he had his own struggles with law enforcement, but was respected, kind, and deeply loved by his family. At the time of his fatal encounter with police, he was living in a shelter run by a church group in Baton Rouge, LA and making his living selling music CDs. He was widely known as a “people person” and called “Big A” by his customers.
His cousin, Elliott Sterling, said, “If somebody asked for blues or country music, he’d know it all. He couldn’t make it in a regular job, but he could make it selling CDs. He could converse with everybody.”
An aunt, Regina Adams, remembered: “When he was little, I used to always tell him to go home. I wish I could tell him to go home now.”
TAKE THE #M4BL PLEDGE, and share widely to help end the systemic violence that visits Black communities every day.
GNYCfC SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN ZERO to end police violence in America by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability. Its ongoing review of police union contracts is available here.