Police Racism Dehumanizes Black Youth

Aliyah Abu-Hazeem, Contributing Writer

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, not only about the Ferguson decision, but also about the senseless violence that has been occurring across the nation. My thinking has, unconsciously, enabled my silence.

I am not silent because I have nothing to say. In fact, I have much to say. Far more than this white space can hold. I was brought up on the sentiment, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” and I know that my words are impactful and will resonate with many people, especially during a time of national grieving such as this. My silence doesn’t indicate a choice not to stand in solidarity for the innumerable Black and Brown individuals’ lives that are lost on a daily basis, in a system that we call just and that supposedly endows all humans with constitutional rights and protections.

There is not a waking moment my mind is not racing at 100 mph. I think not only of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown or Tamir Rice, but of the hundreds of lives lost every day across the nation due to police violence, brutality and racial profiling, carried out by trigger-happy miscreants who selfishly and irrationally strip away these supposedly inalienable rights we have and perpetuate injustice through ending the lives of so many individuals before they even have the chance to live.

I think about the hypocrisy that our nation founds itself upon, with its money-hungry government officials who do nothing about ending gun violence or lowering crime rates until mass murder — or genocide — has already occurred. These officials make one statement to the nation calling out for justice to be served and then unapologetically believe their words will cause a drastic change.

However, there is still no day in court for the individuals who have had lives stolen from them at the hands of systemic violence. Where does these systems’ righteousness lie when they decide to not pay reparations to the families and communities that have to go on living without their loved ones? Where is the acknowledgement of the continued pain, suffering and intolerance that these individuals face? Where is the repayment to society for the humans’ lives that were taken because they were deemed unworthy of existence?

They say there is nothing new under the sun. Well, this proves to be true in regard to the countless individuals who are at risk every day. At risk of losing their lives; at risk of no longer being a part of their communities; at risk of having their rights violated; at risk of being stripped the ability to have a future, accomplish their dreams, or make their goals a reality. In a supposedly post-racial, modern society, racism is still at the forefront of individuals’ everyday lives — whether or not you want to admit or acknowledge it.

We cannot continue to deny that racism is and will continue to be pervasive. The very fact that a Black male cannot walk down the street on the South Side of Chicago without facing police harassment and racial profiling via interrogation is indicative of the racism that is continuously plaguing this nation. The fact that a Black person cannot reach for something in their pocket without the assumption they are carrying a weapon speaks volumes to the state of our “post-racial” society.

Even beyond race, which is not to place race aside, we are all human and endowed with human rights. Being a human is intrinsic to all of us despite skin color, creed or ethnicity; but still the rights we have as human beings are not equal or impartial to us all.

Policies like “stop-and-frisk” that remain embedded within constitutional law circumvent the rights that we have as humans, enforcing stereotypes and biases upon individuals to define their proneness to lawbreaking. I wonder: What does a criminal look like? How can one assess criminality based on appearance?

Stop-and-frisk laws are made to dehumanize Black people. Let’s be real: Black people are the individuals getting stopped and frisked by the police. Those are the individuals that appear to be threatening to the police.

Let’s examine these individuals that I keep referring to. Instead of continuing the cycle of generalizing the population that is most affected by violence, which whitewashed society continues to do — I’m going to lay it all on the table. BLACK — YOUNG — MEN! These Black youths’ lives are being diminished every day. If Black men aren’t losing their lives, they are losing their right to live, which is analogous in severity.

I will not sugarcoat nor meander around the facts. According to FBI crime statistics for 2013, there are, on average, 8,500 Black people murdered each year. That equates to about 21.65 deaths per day. Now, let’s look at the murders of Black people involving police officers. Annually, there are approximately 400 police-related murders; of those 400 murders, 38 percent of them are of Black people. That is 152 Black people slain by police officers each year. This does not even include the murders that go unreported or swept under the rug, which we know, regardless of how much we try to deny it, occurs.

The numbers show whom those laws protect, and it’s not the Black minority. These laws are enforced as a way to persuade the easily deceived white majority that racism is null and void and that the system we live in serves and protects the lives and rights of all people. Well, all people in this nation were not enslaved. All people in this nation are not overrepresented in prison populations. All people in this nation do not have to sell drugs to provide for their impoverished families. All people in this nation do not have to rely on government assistance to survive. All people in this nation do not fear or distrust the police. And all people in this nation do not have to constantly look over their shoulder because they don’t know what minute of any given day could be their last.