We Can’t Stop Fighting for the Humanity of Black Bodies
Black bodies matter. Black bodies matter. Black bodies matter. Say it with me: Black bodies matter. This isn’t a question. This isn’t a euphemism. This isn’t an analogy. This is a fact. Black cis and trans boys, girls, men, and women and non-binary folks, they all matter. Until that fact becomes a universal truth due to the precise liberty and justice the Constitution of this country promises, I won’t stop fighting and neither should you.
Ezell Ford, 24, was shot Monday in South Los Angeles by the LAPD. He later died of his injuries. He was unarmed. He was valid. He was important. And, like all who have been slain by police authorities in this country, he was senselessly murdered.
According to KTLA:
“The incident began at 8:12 p.m. Monday when officers responded to a report of a shooting at the intersection of West 65th Street and South Broadway (map), said Lt. Ellis Imaizumi of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Eight minutes later, at 8:20 p.m., the officers stopped a man who was walking in the 200 block of 65th, authorities said.
‘A struggle ensued’ and police opened fire, according to a statement from the Police Department.
“The man was transported to a hospital where he underwent surgery, according to Officer Sara Faden, spokeswoman for the LAPD. He later succumbed to his injuries. No officers were hurt in the incident.”
Ford’s family will be mourning him. His loved ones, like so many out there, will eternally have questions regarding why his life was taken. They may never get answers.
But, I almost didn’t write this. I have grown so weary of writing these stories I almost gave in to my nevermind. After writing about Eric Garner, then John Crawford, and then Mike Brown, I almost gave into my selfish desire to step away from it all. Then I realized how ineffectual, impotent, and childish that would be.
Watching Phillip Agnew’s heartfelt interview on MSNBC tonight with Chris Hayes brought on feelings of guilt and immense responsibility in me that I couldn’t ignore. His words about Mike Brown’s final position – with his hands raised above his head in retreat – struck me so deeply it evoked tears.
It isn’t my place to take a break from activism, education, or outreach when black bodies lay dying in the streets. I don’t – as an able-bodied, middle class, scholar – have the right to get tired of working for social justice. As a dual-minority – black and woman – I experience oppression. My black body is objectified, undermined, stereotyped, and abused in the media daily. But, as someone who has not personally and directly experienced the pain of having a loved one taken from me in an instant because a police officer was trigger happy, it just isn’t my place to compartmentalize the pain, shutting it away until I feel like dealing with it.
No pain is more important than another. No death is more tragic.
Ezell Ford’s life and death shouldn’t be overshadowed because acclaimed actor, Robin Williams, hung himself the same day. Both are tragic but neither is more tragic than the other. As journalists are deployed to Williams’ house and Hollywood star, very few are covering Ezell Ford’s murder. John Crawford has all but become old news. And, while Mike Brown’s story has actually made national media (mostly because of the riots that followed it), it still isn’t being judged nearly as tragically as Williams’ suicide.
Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Jonathan Ferrell, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Michael Brown, and now, Ezell Ford. Yes there are countless others They. All. Matter. As a country, we have got to come to terms with that fact or we will never truly overcome.
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