One more time…

I posted most of this on FaceBook earlier, but have cleaned it up a bit and possibly explored a ew points further. Emotion is high, and my writer’s mind is in some kind of spasm. I’m tired of having to see the pictures of people who were alive yesterday but dead today, because of an encounter with law enforcement. This has gotten ridiculous, and instead of being desensitized to the sheer volume of similar reports, I am become more and more enraged by having to see the same thing over and over and over again. Only the faces change, but the story is still the same. This. Has. To. Stop.

Daunte Wright’s family is obviously…upset. Enraged. Incredulous. Shocked. In such incredible pain it cannot be described. Daunte Wright’s aunt said a few things that sum up what a lot of people are feeling: What if it was your son? What if it was your nephew? How are we supposed to feel when Daunte is dead and the officer who killed him, and other officers who have killed people, is getting “due process”? Daunte didn’t deserve this, his aunt said.

So, yeah – how ARE we supposed to feel? I feel angry and I don’t even know Daunte Wright or anyone related to him. Daunte didn’t deserve that, George Floyd didn’t deserve what he got, Sandra Bland didn’t deserve the outcome she got. None of them did. I didn’t know George Floyd or Sandra Bland or any of the others, or anyone related to them, either, but I’m angry and disheartened and sad because of their deaths as well. I don’t know the Army Lieutenant who was stopped and mistreated by the police, or any of the victims of the Atlanta shooter, or anyone killed in any of the other mass shootings, but their deaths still impact me because none of them deserved that.

What DO we deserve? As Americans, I would contend that we deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…what our founding documents promise…but what the eff does that even mean any more? Happiness is a complicated thing, and in terms of a government, it doesn’t mean laughter and smiles and balloons and parties. It means how well citizens come to realize their goals, and thus contribute to the overall good of the republic. If you are getting your needs met by the experience of living in this country, then you’re more apt to work to maintain it, contribute to it, etc. That’s the measure of “happiness” from the standpoint of the greater good.

In more practical terms, I believe we deserve to know that if we use a possibly counterfeit $20 bill in a store, or talk back to a police officer, or go to a Bible study at church, or walk or jog down the street in our own neighborhoods…that we stand a good chance of coming home again. That another citizen won’t fear us, or project a criminal activity on us because of what we look like. That if we run into any problems while out in public, our biggest fear shouldn’t be the people sworn to protect and serve us. That we aren’t seen as guilty of something before we even get out of bed. That’s just SOME of what we deserve.

I don’t know any of these people who have been killed while in police custody, but I am angry; I am enraged. I am disheartened. And I am very, very sad.

Enraged because one person’s life should not be worth more than another’s. Enraged because there is no rational explanation for any of this. Enraged because this is so clearly a systemic deficiency, whether it be isolated to law enforcement as a training issue, or a psychological screening issue, or the infiltration of law enforcement systems with totalitarian militaristic and racist philosophy.

Whatever it is that caused it, the system is no longer one of “peace officers”, but one of power displays and dictatorial compliance, power OVER instead of power WITH. No longer a system of protecting life, or enhancing happiness, but of protecting property and possessions. No longer a system that attempts to ensures order and safety, but one that attempts to ensure compliance through intimidation and control.

Disheartened because this keeps happening, and the rhetoric of “just obey the police and this wouldn’t happen” persists. The defense attorney at Derek Chavin’s trial attempted to get one of the expert medical witnesses to say agree that if George Floyd had just complied with the instructions to get into the police car on that day in May last year, he would still be alive. The expert refused to co-sign that fallacy, and said that were it not for Derek Chauvin’s intervention, George Floyd would still be alive, regardless of drug use or high blood pressure or heart problems. Nice try.

Disheartened because everyone loses when these things happen, when an unarmed BIPoC is killed and a psychotic 20-year-old heavily armed white racist is taken into custody alive and protected. My heart sinks every time I remember Mike Brown’s body lying uncovered on a city street for hours, while his mother watched helplessly just feet away. I cannot imagine how she must have felt, barred from even going to her son’s lifeless body to touch him, maybe cover his face. There was really no explanation for treating her that way, other than meanness.

I am sad because…I don’t see a way out of it, don’t see how we can stop this, because it feels so hopeless. It’s out of control. The system that killed George Floyd and Daunte Wright and Sandra Bland and Mike Brown and all the others has the same roots as the one that provoked supremacists to attempt to overthrow the government on January 6th. It’s the system of thought that says all people are NOT equal, that all ways of being are not equivalent, that some people are more valuable and more worthy than others. That some people will ALWAYS be less than other people, I mean just look at them – they’re ugly, and they’re stupid, and they can’t be trusted. Case closed.

I’m sad because this is the world we’ve created. The one we have to navigate now, probably for the rest of my life, in a country that takes pride in saying that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. i’m sad because i don’t know if that’s true, or if it ever was. I’m sad because it didn’t have to be this way. I don’t want this. I don’t want it for myself or anyone else, but this is what we have. I’m sad because i feel that i am watching my country disintegrate, taking with it all of the wonderful things those who came before me left for us, all they fought for, all they built.

More than anything, I’m sad because i feel that if some people had their way I would be in a concentration camp or forced into unpaid labor for the good of … someone else. I really don’t want to feel that. I’m sad because i keep seeing Black women, and men, sobbing on television, howling in rage and grief and shock as their children’s bodies are driven away to the morgue. How many decades, centuries, have these scenes been enacted, with BIPoC bodies treated so indiscriminately and those who love them so powerless?

I’m sad because when i watch the trial of the man who is accused of killing George Floyd I relive that horrible day, see those horrible images of a grown Black man dying live on national television, with every shred of dignity ripped from him as he begged…please …I can’t breathe…please officer…let me stand…please…over and over and over until there was silence.

I’m heartbroken because George Floyd’s brother cried on the witness stand, telling everyone what a “mama’s boy” George Floyd was, how much he loved his mother, and how he taught his brothers and sisters how to act. And then i hear George Floyd’s voice crying out for his mama as he was being ushered to the door of his own death on that Minneapolis street. You can’t unsee or unhear that stuff. We never should have seen or heard it in the first place.

How many more scenes like that will it take before something changes in what we can expect? How many more grieving families, will be torn apart by evens like this including the ones associated with the people responsible for these killings. How many more of us will be thrown into the hellfire of this boiling cauldron of hatred and incivility and intolerance. How many more? I shudder to think of the answer to that question.

In my mind’s eye, that cauldron looks exactly like the volcano boiling and bubbling up from the depths of the Earth in Iceland right now, molten lava oozing up from below the surface, overtopping the mountain sides and bathing the land below in a red hot sea of rage. That molten rock has been there for a long time, and nobody knows how much of it there is. It’s going to come up and over, no matter what we do at this point, so we just need to get out of the way and let it do what it’s going to do. We can’t put a lid on it now, we can’t control it. We have to respect it, and know that we can do something else to keep ourselves safe; there are some natural processes that we’re just can’t control from the surface. I would contend, however, that our collective energy affects the Planet in some esoteric ways, so…perhaps we would do well to calm our own buried rage. Perhaps. It will take a minute, though.

This morning, I am tired. Some of the emoting that it takes for even writing about this is draining. Watching the television accounts is even more draining, but not knowing what is happening does not serve me well because I make up my own stories. My own stories are far worse than anything actually happening, so…I will stay connected and make the best of it. The dog is in for it, because she is going to have to help distract me. That should be OK with her, I’m thinking, because it will get her more attention and outdoor time. She is a pushy little thing.

Too close, and you’ll get burned…but it’ll hurt me more than it hurts you.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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