“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically...the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” ― Rosa Parks
Some media reports suggest that all the black men killed by the police in recent weeks "deserved it." They were resisting arrest, running from the cops, struggling with the cops, doing anything and everything but quietly, peacefully submitting to the cops. And the media has rubbed our noses in the fact that these men were not saints. This is deifintely true for Eric Garner. Had Eric Garner been a saint, he would not have gotten so tired---tired of being harrassed, tired of being profiled, tired of giving in. But he was not a saint, and he did get tired. "Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today."
Do we villanize Eric Garner because he got tired of giving in? Or do we see him as our Rosa Parks? We have all been giving in, teaching our sons to give in, to just submit to the cops. No matter how many times they stop you, no matter how many times they force you to disrobe in public, no matter how many times in one day or one week they go through your pockets and through your car while you lean against the wall with your legs spread apart. Do not make any trouble. Just give up your seat and stay alive. Don't be a martyr for something so intangible as human dignity.
What are we, as a people, as a nation, to do with a man like Eric Garner who died for that intangible? Do we dismiss him as a fool and continue our daily lives? Or do we see in his resistance something greater-- the beginnings of a new movement--not for civil rights but for the greatest of all human rights--the right to life. Do we fan his spark? Join this movement? Do we lift our voices alongside Eric Garner's and say you are not alone in being tired. We are all tired. Tired of dead black boys. Tired of dead black man. Tired of submtting to and merely surviving police violence and abuse.
These days, there are no bus boycotts for us to join, and no national march on Washington has been called. But, we have opportunities today that are a direct result of those marches and boycotts. We can vote. And one vote that can make a real difference in the daily violence and indignities suffered by black men-- in whether your son or father or husband or brother is the next Eric Garner-- is a vote for police body cameras. No more unexplained "suicides" in the backs of police cars or mysteriously broken spines while being transported in police vans. No more unsubstantiated tales of self-defense that villianize the victims. No more killing of black men in the dark. .
Presidential candidates are advocating body cameras these days, but you don't have to wait until 2016 to support body cameras. It is city officials who currently have the most power on this issue, so all you have to do is care enough to take five minutes to make your voice heard in your own city.
If you do nothing else after reading this post, please email the mayor of your city and let them know that you want police officers to be required to wear body cameras. Given how small elections for mayor generally are, a small determined group can have an enormous impact on whether or not body cameras are adopted in a particular city. #nomorekillinginthedark
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!