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Alton Sterling (& Philando Castile & Sandra Bland & Trayvon Martin) Is All Of Us

Alton Sterling

Black people are the news cycle. Whether through pop culture or near-constant news reports of bodies shot down for nothing, our input, contributions, and literal bodies are the impetus for your 24-hour news feed. The narrative of death has become so commonplace that two Black men (Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling and Minnesota resident Philando Castile) dying within a day of each other is business as usual.    

Tears are shed. Mourning is done. The news cycle picks up and moves on. Black or brown skin continues to be a threat to any and all law enforcement. #AllLivesMatter fails to see the point.

The most trivial of things (cigarettes, Skittles, hoodies, sleeping, breathing) are grounds for gangland executions, a fact that I often can’t bring myself to think about out of sheer terror. But yesterday afternoon (July 6), singer/activist Janelle Monae put forth a perspective I hadn’t thought of before:

 

 

Of course as a black person, I’m damn near forced to consider that I could die any day just for looking at someone funny. As a black man with twisted hair, Akai Gurley’s random death as he was leaving a re-twisting was and continues to be a very real threat. And like every other Black person who’s died at the hands of police since Trayvon Martin, Sterling did nothing to provoke gunfire. In fact, he was about as right as anyone could be; providing for their family by any means necessary, namely selling CDs in front of a supermarket. The story goes that he flashed his gun at a homeless man who asked him for money, who then called the police, and officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II came and killed him in cold blood. Dylann Roof got a comfortable arrest and a Happy Meal after killing 9 people and this man gets killed for doing nothing? 

It’s a question that’s been asked time and time again: How many of us hustle and grind to provide for our families? How many of us walk around at night, hoodies crowning our heads, with snacks and treats in our pockets? How many of us sleep unconscious in a bed between the hours of 11PM and 8AM? How many of us deserve to die in those situations *just* because we’re Black?

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