Fuck. I mean what other way can I start this other than saying, fuck? By now you’ve read and probably seen the various videos recording Philando Castile’s death–embedded forever in our shameful history, for the world to see. The death of a black man, televised for all of us to see, again and again like it’s just normal that a black guy shouldn’t get out of a traffic stop unscathed. But after seeing all of these deaths televised, I wish I had enough room to #saytheirnames, have we gotten numb? I’d argue we’ve been numb. The life of a black man was always televised to embarrass and degrade in our media unless it was used to make that media source money, then maybe it might be a positive depiction.
I’m a LatinX. The officer who killed Philando, is a LatinX. I am ashamed to share a heritage with this man. A man who is a person of color, subject to all of the uphill battles that other people of color are subjected to and solidified for us that it was justifiable to fear for your life if a black man is in a car, with his girlfriend and child and following your commands to the T. I am ashamed. I was ashamed when I saw Diamond Reynold’s video after the shots were fired. I was ashamed when, Officer Yanez didn’t plead guilty and instead of forced a trial. I was ashamed when he testified that he feared for his life because Philando was following his commands. And I was ashamed that he shot into a car at a man who had displayed NO signs of a threat, into a car with a 4 year old girl, into a car with his girlfriend who was also following commands. But mostly I was ashamed that a jury saw all of the videos, heard all of the testimony and let him walk.
What’s the difference here though? It’s a person of color doing this to another person of color, it’s not a white officer and a black victim as it normally is. I’ve heard a lot of people argue, this one wasn’t about race. IT IS. IT IS about race. I’m the first to admit that I know LatinX that are discriminatory towards black people, it exist. I don’t deny it, the majority of LatinX I know don’t deny it either. Hell I have cousins, first generations like me, that voted for Trump because apparently they forgot that their parents and grandparents came here illegally. They somehow think that they are white because they aren’t black. What it comes down to in my opinion is that you want to be a part of the oppressors and not the oppressed and you’ll stretch as far as you can to get there, this view also makes you a coward though so choose your side. I’ve chosen mine and mine is the side of equality and humanity.
What else do we need to see before we can finally agree that there is a bias in this country against black people? What else? A cop, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a judge and a jury, all of these parts make up a system that was crafted to tilt against people of color and we are still shocked when these not guilties are rendered. Myself, as an attorney, believes in justice and the equalizer that is the justice system because if I don’t have hope in that what do I have? I have to believe that there is something that will shake out the bad people from the good. I challenge people I work with everyday when they say derogatory things about clients or the other party hoping that maybe they’ll finally stop thinking that way if they are challenged by a peer. I do my part in what I do and I am the FIRST to condemn someone who shares my heritage and their part in perpetuating the circle of racism that poisons this country.
And that’s what makes this about race, I am a Latinx and I never for one second thought that Officer Yanez was justified in his shooting. I didn’t look for the excuse. I didn’t ask what Philando was doing before. I didn’t ask what his girlfriend was doing before. I only had to watch the video Diamond posted and hear that he had informed the officer that he was carrying a weapon before he was lit up to know that Officer Yanez was a fucken murder. This condemnation and forcing accountability is something that doesn’t happen enough in the white community.
When a white officer shoots a black man for no reason or for the fake reason of “fearing for his life” there are 1 million arguments about how he was scared and how much bigger, scarier, black/brown man was than him so he shot him, in his back, while he was running away. I mean you’re a cop aren’t you always fearing for your life, isn’t that a part of the job description, you’re job is to FIGHT CRIME, it’s a job hazard that your life is in danger as long as your on the clock? This has to stop. The condemning of dead victims of color, specifically black men has to stop.
We need to hold each other, yes those that share a heritage/race/ethnicity with us, accountable. Whether your white, brown, black, etc. if someone in your community commits a crime that is motivated by hatred towards another race or religion, you much force your community and yourself to hold that person accountable. We as LatinX cannot sit silently and allow us to be a part of the group that decides to say nothing and do nothing in regards to the injustice that Officer Yanez served to Philando, Diamond their daugther when he was supposed to be protecting. White people have to do the same thing and unfortunately more often. We cannot expect change or demand change without accountability. I’ve been waiting for the NRA to release a statement about how this outcome is a threat to our 2nd Amendment after Trevor Noah called them out, but not surprisingly they’ve remained silent. It’s obvious that the great equalizer is not going to equalize, so DO BETTER. BE BETTER. Help with the dismantling we so badly need. Black and brown lives are depending on it.