Today marks the first day of Black History Month, a time to commemorate the historical accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans. But today is also the day Tyre Nichols’ family will bury their son after the police brutally murdered him. It is a somber moment, but it is necessary today to recognize the reality that Black people face in America every day.
It’s impossible to miss it; whether you are watching the news or scrolling on social media, you see images and proof that our country is becoming desensitized to Black deaths at the hands of police. How many lives must we lose for our leaders to pass real policies? How many videos do we have to watch of Black men calling for their mothers for it to stop? How many traffic stops will have to end in senseless violence and death?
As a nation, we are becoming desensitized to Black pain and suffering at a time when we have the power to choose our leaders and challenge them to make the policies we so desperately need.
The fact that the five officers were Black highlights the deep-rooted culture of conformity within police departments. The SCORPION Unit — the squad that all five police officers were part of — was supposedly created to protect the community, but protection was far from what the community received. There is a culture of brutality, one full of pain and hatred. To the police, Black people are always viewed as a threat to control and suppress, rather than by our humanity. In this case, the police officers have already been fired and four of the five have been charged with murder — something that would not have happened a few years ago.
Today as we mourn the death of Tyre Nichols and all the deaths of Black people who have died at the hands of police, let’s use this as a wake-up call and a reminder of how much work we have to do.
We are asking our non-Black comrades to stand up with and for us because this trauma is becoming too much to even bear, and it is the only way we will make the change we need. We have no books to offer or quotes to inspire you but we ask that you sit in discomfort and think through ways you can be a part of the change.
What will you do? And how will we continue the fight to stand up against police violence?