PAUSE

To realize that this, too, is a virus...That this killing is not indiscriminate, either...that “All lives matter” remains a fallacy until Black Lives Matter, and cease to be targeted, trampled and extinguished with impunity.


 


Amid trauma, life goes on. We are driven to rise and take care of those who need us, to honor the memory of those taken from us, to live and breathe for one more day. But this coronavirus crisis has given us pause.


Pause to take in the felling, over a few months, of tens of thousands of our fellow human beings by a viral enemy as insidious as it is vicious...and to realize that this killing is not indiscriminate. 


Pause to watch, for an excruciating 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the ruthless murder of an unarmed, handcuffed, prostrate black man—with his neck beneath the knee of a white police officer, while two more officers knelt on his back and one stood guard—all because of an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill. 

George Floyd. Minnesota.


Pause to watch unarmed Manuel Ellis who, after playing the drums at his church in Washington state one night, went from having what appeared to be a "friendly talk" with police to being knocked down and pummeled to death.


Pause to watch yet another black man, pinned down and handcuffed by white police officers, pleading, "I can't breathe"—only to have them reply, "I don't care," toss aside his inhaler, and watch him die. 

Derrick Scott. Oklahoma.


Pause to watch the hunting down and lynching of an innocent, unarmed young black jogger by three white vigilantes who spat racist epithets at him even as he lay dying—with proof of nothing but their contempt for the color of his skin. 

Ahmaud Arbery. Georgia.


Pause to picture an innocent young black EMT whose passion was saving lives, lying in bed in her home and having her life mercilessly ended with eight gunshots lodged into her body by police who “mistakenly” barged in. 

Breonna Taylor. Kentucky.


Pause to remember the police, immediately upon arriving on the scene, firing at 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black child whose only crime was playing with a toy gun in an Ohio recreational center. Pause. 


To hear African American Keedron Bryant, also 12 years old, sing his heartrending plea: “I just want to live. God protect me.”


To realize that even young black children do not qualify for the cherished innocence of childhood. That sympathy and the benefit of the doubt do not extend to young black bodies. That even they are not guaranteed safety. And that this is neither new, nor gone. Pause to remember George Stinney, Jr. (14). Emmett Till (14). Addie Mae Collins (14). Carol Denise McNair (14). Cynthia Wesley (14). Carole Robertson (14). Nicholas Heyward (13). DeAunta Farrow (12). Kiwane Carrington (15). Aiyana Stanley-Jones (7). Cameron Tillman (14). Laquan McDonald (17). Tyre King (13). Jordan Edwards (15). 


And numerous others of all ages, genders and backgrounds who—simply because of the color of their skin—were not presumed innocent until proven guilty, who couldn't breathe and whose stories were neither filmed nor truthfully told.


Pause. To say their names. To learn more. To note that virtually all their murderers have walked free: The criminal who stalked and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in his own neighborhood in Florida, walks free and has even auctioned the murder weapon, publicly glorifying it as an "American icon.” Even now, Breonna Taylor's murderers walk free, and are being paid to do the same job at which they so tragically failed.


Pause to absorb the pain of these injustices, wake up from the Dream and see that the reality is a nightmare.


Pause to consider the families hurled into mourning and shackled, for life, to new identities—childless parents, orphaned children, brotherless sisters, sisterless brothers.


Pause to consider the facts and not their alternatives: Statistically, black people in America are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police (despite representing about 13% of the population) and are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed when they are. Listen to the likes of Samuel Sinyangwe (of Mapping Police Violence) and watch @jolly_good_ginger and others on Twitter. Or go to the source data yourself, if you can correctly analyze it. 


Pause to watch Ava DuVernay's 13th and begin to understand, as many have proclaimed and Afua Hirsch has explained, that "The system isn’t broken. It was built this way."


Pause. 


To realize that this, too, is a virus, and it has been ravaging America for four centuries and counting. That this killing is not indiscriminate, either. And that “All lives matter” remains a fallacy until Black Lives Matter, and cease to be targeted, trampled and extinguished with impunity.


Yes, the COVID-19 crisis, which is forcing us to stare death in the face and fight collectively for our lives, is creating pause.


Pause—for people of all colors and ethnicities, backgrounds and beliefs, in America and beyond its shores—to ROAR that we will suffer inhumanity and injustice no more.




Written on behalf of Many

by Cheryl N. Klufio

6/13/2020




About Olenoko

Olenoko delivers fresh vistas on Africa, the Diaspora, and the World. Each week we serve up angles that have been missed and stories that have been lost. In the Ga language of Ghana, "Olenoko?" means "You know something?" We make sure you do. Olenoko: So you knOw. Care to share your story? Drop us a line at olenoko.know@gmail.com.
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