I’ve never seen a real noose. Never had someone from another race call me the “N” word Never been intimidated by someone else based on my ethnicity. The majority of us West Indian blacks likely haven’t. But these are experiences that many of our African-American friends have had first hand and I shudder to imagine them.
From my pedestal I can pontificate about who could have deescalated situations and how both police and young black men should carry themselves with more decorum and stop with this eternal power struggle. You see, I actually believe that both parties have a role to play in whether these black man / white man faceoffs end in tragedy. Police need to stop goading confrontation as some of the power trippers do, and black men need to recognize and defer to the authority of law enforcers. With the nooses and racial profiling and “N _ _ _ _ _” name calling though, I can understand how pent up frustration might lead a black man to talk back… aggressively.
That said, when all the young black man has is a loud voice and a hot temper, a bullet couldn’t possibly be the right answer. Amazingly, American law says it is. Reality check – if the laws didn’t make it so that open season on young black men could be cloaked under the legal shield of justifiable force, racial profiling would certainly still be an issue, but far fewer of our men would be dead.
In my mind, the nationwide protests that have been crippling families and businesses who had nothing to do with the verdicts we’re protesting would be better held outside of police stations, government buildings and the offices of lawmakers. Inconvenience the people who can make a difference to your cause, not the innocent bystanders. Work on the solution instead of brooding on the problem. But people don’t want to hear that. They just want to “make their voices heard” regardless of how helpless the people they force to listen are.
No, I don’t know first hand the level of racism my African- American friends have endured, but we stand in solidarity with the community knowing that we must find remedies. We just need to find the smart way to make them happen.
Calibe Thompson is the outspoken host and producer of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly and Taste the Islands with Chef Irie. Her book of collected opinion writings “Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say” will be available in 2015. Contact her or find out more at www.calibe.net.