Talk Back

Another Day, Another Hashtag

This week, the lives of myself and many of other Black people, were consumed by the tragic murder of another one of our brothers. Alton Sterling, a father of 5 was murdered for nothing more than selling CDs, carrying a firearm in an open carry state, and of course, being Black. This death, caught on camera, helped to reopen that never-ending wound that Black people have dealt with since the inception of slavery. We started marching, started posting and tweeting, started trending, as we often do, hoping that our voices and concerns would start to raise some awareness to the fact that America has a police problem and Black people are the unfortunate victims. As we went to sleep, we could only dream of tomorrow being a little less hectic.

Unfortunately, the next day, we woke up to another video. This time, a Facebook live video of Philando Castile being shot at a traffic stop by what appears to be another “angry” white officer that may have let his perceived fears of Black men override his logic and sanity.

After watching both public executions, I wondered, “Will this ever end?” Should we just leave a blank space our #BlackLivesMatter posters and fill it with a new name everyday as our lives are being taken right before our eyes? I am not sure what the answer is, however I am certain there is no better time for us to become more resilient, more vigilant, and refuse to allow the burdens of our ancestors to have been lived in vain.

We can’t live in silence. We can’t be divisive. The myth of “Black on Black crime” is a tired attempt to justify the killing of our people.

Let me be clear when I say this: if we stopped killing each other, they will find another reason to kill us!

The justification of how a race treats its own seems to only apply to Black people being killed by white officers. Intraracial violence—Whites killing Whites, Blacks killing Blacks—occurs all the time, yet it is only brought up when it is used to justify violence used against us.

Respectability politics will get us killed. You can dress up your appearance, change how you speak, get educated, and assume that you are “safer” than your brothers who stand on the corner, but that’s not true. The one thing respectability politics never seems to address is that there are some people who want us dead because we are Black. There is no way to change the fact that our skin is Black; therefore suggesting superficial changes to make people more comfortable is detrimental to community work and activism because it only plays into furthering the fear people have about Black people.

I am a Black queer man fighting for the rights of all Black people to be free. As an activist concered about Black lives, I realize I am sometimes fighting for people who may never get up and fight for me. When a trans woman is killed, we don’t march. We don’t start a trending topic worldwide. We remain silent and devalue the life of one of our own. And that is a problem.

We don’t get to pick and choose the right Black life that should be the poster child to go against those who we want to “stop killing us.” The silence we have around certain murders of our own is what truly speaks volumes to the world. The crime of not standing up for EVERY Black life is truly the problem we have in our community, and we can no longer remain silent.

All activism is necessary in the fight for Black lives. Twitter has started movements, led to indictments, and brought awareness to the plight of Black people. We can no longer be silent about the death of our brothers and sisters and non-identifying people in the Black community; they, too, are targeted by the police, after all.

A Black life is a Black life, and just as I fight for yours, the time is now that you must fight for mine.

If All Lives Matter, then Black Lives Matter. If Black Lives Matter, then All Black Lives Matter. WE don’t get to pick and choose anymore who we will fight for. Alton Sterling was a felon who was selling CDs. Philando Castile was an educated man and a cook for the school system. Both Black lives are deserving of our voices, for the only way we can win is if we band together in the fight for everybody.