We Can’t Stop Fighting for the Humanity of Black Bodies

SWAT in FergusonBlack 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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Jenn M. Jackson

Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief
Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

5 Responses

  1. Rita Arens says:

    I think the repetition of “black bodies matter” is the right tack to take. There is no arguing with that. It seems like we have needed to boil this down to it’s lowest common denominator to remove all the “yes, buts.” It’s exhausting, but yeah, I think it’s going to take beating that statement like a drum.

  2. MyJennarocity says:

    I, too, think that they matter. I guess I just wished that they mattered always, not just when it’s a racial issue. I recently watched Johnathan Gentry on Fox News and watched a few of his other YouTube videos and I have to say that his stance is one I agree with. We should be as outraged with the killing of innocent black people by other black people as we are with the killing of black people by white people. I wish people were as outraged and upset about the gun violence in Chicago as they are about the issue in Ferguson. No offense to Michael Brown, but he wasn’t exactly without fault in this whole scenario – but the 3 year old killed over the weekend in Chicago by shootings was a true innocent who couldn’t defend himself. But, where is the outrage over his body? I agree, all violence against unarmed, innocent citizens should be met with outrage, but we seem to still focus in on the one or two that are racially fueled. Am I am way off base, here?

  3. Heather says:

    You have no proof that he was “senselessly murdered”, and every indication points to the overwhelming possibility that he died because he tried to use his black body (which does matter, I agree), even if unarmed, to assault this police officer and threaten his life. An unarmed man who is significantly larger than a police officer can assault that police officer and use the officers own gun to kill him, and it looks like that is what MB attempted in this case. It also stands to reason that he continued to threaten his life in some way after that altercation. He was not killed for being black, but he WAS most likely killed for trying to take another persons life. Police officers lives matter. Police officers lives matter. POLICE OFFICERS LIVES MATTER. It sure doesn’t seem like MB cared much for this officers life. http://buzzpo.com/caution-graphic-post-gentle-giant-mike-brown-liked-drugs-hos-killas-murders/

  4. Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover someone that truly understands what they are talking about over the internet. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people should look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you’re not more popular since you most certainly have the gift. I can believe I’m still protesting this sh*t. Got one of these t-shirts https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/49938810

  5. I needed to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post… I can believe I’m still protesting this sh*t. Got one of these t-shirts https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/49938810