When asked to write on what is currently happening in the U.S. at the moment, amid the multiple police brutality incidents against black bodies, the hate-crime ultra-violence being inflicted on black transgender sisters and brothers and the rise of a homophobic, Latino-hating, Muslim-loathing, racist and sexist Republican presidential frontrunner for the GOP, I needed a moment. Only the moment lasted much longer than I initially intended. With wall-to-wall coverage on news television and social media occurring almost instantaneously, not to mention other atrocities proceeding at the time, I lapsed into a defeatist depression. Why, pray tell?
Well, without knowing it, I was still privately grieving for the lives lost in the June attack on the Pulse nightclub by Omar Mateen in Orlando, Fla.; nigh-chronically despondent after reading of the terrorist attack of a truck driver in Nice, France, plowing through scores of people at a Bastille Day celebration festival that killed 84 people in toll; then, there’s Brexit, the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, the fall of the economy and the possible impending doom of the U.S. by the Republican Party’s Trojan horse; not to mention, conflict in South Sudan and the African leaders responsible; and the Turkish military coup that crumbled after crowds answered president dictator Tayyip Erdogan’s call to take to the streets to support him and the 2,839 soldiers and high-ranking officers arrested in the process of carrying out their democratic duty.
A little closer to home, there are the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police brutality and Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dobbs, who was yet another victim of hate-crime.
On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, 37, was shot several times after being tackled to the ground by Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni, two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Louisiana. Sterling, a CD vendor, began to carry a firearm due to local robberies. According to a shop owner and eyewitness Abdullah Muflahi, Sterling did not wield the gun nor threaten the officers. The incident was recorded and the video went viral shortly thereafter.
Philando Castile, who died ten days before his 33rd birthday, was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul in a traffic stop the next day.
Castile was driving a white 1997 Oldsmobile with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds—who live-streamed a video on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the shooting—and her four-year-old daughter as passengers when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer. Shortly before the incident, he told Yanez that he was licensed to carry and had a gun in the car in an attempt to prevent such an incident from occurring. According to Reynolds, police officers failed to check Castile for a pulse or to provide first aid, and instead consoled the grieving Yanez. Castile died in the emergency room 20 minutes after being shot. That still hasn’t stopped vultures from even petty character assassin and media exploitation, noting that in his 13 years as licensed driver, Castile was pulled over 49 times for minor infractions.
Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dobbs, a 22-year-old transgender woman of color, was “brutally shot in the neck and left to die” on the streets of Washington, D.C., becoming the 14th transgender or gender nonconforming people killed in 2016. And those are just the names of the ones who have made headlines.
Within the same timeframe—all of this transpired over the course of the last 36 days—, Micah Xavier Johnson, a discharged black military soldier who served in Afghanistan, gunned down five officers and wounded 11 others in downtown Dallas during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest over police shootings nationwide. Labeled “unstable,” he showed support for Black Nationalist groups despite no official membership, but was ultimately blacklisted. That didn’t stop the media from targeting groups like Black Lives Matters and labelling them as terrorists and anti-white. Those responses reached a tipping point when Gavin Long, a Kansas City ex-Marine who served in Iraq and earned a Good Conduct Medal shot and killed three law officers, wounding three others in Baton Rouge in what CNN called an “ambush” on Sunday morning, June 17. A day later, during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, Steve King, a U.S. Representative for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, not only insisted that there was nothing wrong with the lack of diversity in the support for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, he also suggested that white people have contributed more to civilization than any other “subgroup,” setting a precedent of white supremacy for both the GOP and Tea Party on national television during an appearance on MSNBC. This, of course, occurring shortly before former Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Donald Trump’s marriage to “very attractive” Slovenian supermodel Melania Trump proves he is not “anti-immigrant.” It also happened mere hours before Melania Trump plagiarized several passages of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC convention speech, nearly verbatim.
With that all that has transpired in the last 36 days, its almost astonishing that I haven’t crawled into the fetus position. This is an opinion shared by many of my friends, colleagues and multiple “voices of our generation” online and so forth.
So, what does it mean for a young black millennial growing up in a post-9/11, radical Tea Party landscape? One that is currently fostering an anti-black, Islamophobic, meninist, fascist, anti-immigrant, hellfire and brimstone spewing, bible-thumping, queer conversation therapy addicted propaganda for and against the American republic? Quite frankly, it’s like we’re living on brink of a Kafkaesque and Orwellian seventh circle of some dystopian underworld. It feels helpless; surrounded by white fragility and a seemingly colonial ageist agenda that targets, condescends, patronize and belittles us. Point blank: We’re scared shitless. Thanks to a surge in random acts of violence or verbal attacks against a chosen marginalized people, we are afraid that any moment can be our last. We’re left contemplating our mortality, questioning our faith in mankind, our place in a society that undermines our worth and our achievements, and the value of our humanity, which is based solely on the complexion of our skin or the chosen aesthetic of the status quo. Rarely are we arbitrated for the content of our character.
And this is what cultivates the toxicity created by a lack of checks and balance by a thin blue line. This what creates anarchy and ultra-violence. This is why “the others” stage peaceful protests in the streets draped in expressions like “Black Lives Matter.” This is why LGBQIA outreach are canvassing Capitol Hill. This is why songwriters and storytellers are crafting content and images that speak to disenfranchisement. If we are truly America’s future, then what will remain if our country, its reputation, its principles and its potential are reduced to ash?
These are the questions that go bump in the night for many millenials. Scared yet? We’re shaking in our boots.