Dear Young, Black Females In America, It’s Not Safe For Us Either
One VIBE writer shares her “WTF” moment while watching the video of a Texas police officer attacking an unarmed teen girl in McKinney, Texas
It was a surprisingly sunny Sunday morning in Bed Stuy as I opened my laptop to peep what the Internet was talking about before I started my day. But little did I know the uneasiness I’d soon be consumed with. I scrolled through Twitter to see what my friends and social peers were chatting about, and as usual, it was the regular Twitter banter: thots, the wild Saturday night they endured, how they should be in church today but are still in bed. But this Sunday was different, I came across a blurry but nevertheless disturbing video still that automatically caught my attention – a cop sitting on the back of a black individual. I couldn’t tell what context it was in, but from the retweets and comments of “smfh” and “wtf,” I knew I needed to take a look.
I clicked the 60-second video snippet to see a white, male police officer wrangling a young, African American female to the ground like an animal. But the snippet wouldn’t suffice as I instantly became heated, Google searching the incident to find a full news clip and video. For several minutes, I was filled with disgust, anguish and sadness as my eyes filled with shallow tears. I couldn’t help but think that could be me, my friend, my cousin.
Let’s be honest, being black in America is dangerous. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. For two years now, I’ve witnessed police brutality like never before. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and a host of other victims have ignited national news – not to mention the hundreds of other black lives harmed by excessive force and senseless violence at the hands of police. The incident in McKinney, Texas is no different, but this time a 14-year-old female is involved – a touchy subject for me.
“Doesn’t surprise me at all,” my female friend replied to me as we chatted about the issue on the phone. This is my main issue: why has police brutality become the norm? Why are we accepting this as everyday life with no real repercussions for out-of-control cops? Might I dare claim this wave of police brutality as the second coming of slavery? Is this modern day manhandling the same lashings my ancestors endured during slavery?
I watched the video not once, but five times, and was sick to my stomach. As a 23-year-old black female in America, I, too, could be subjected to that same police brutality. You never know when you could be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even after the young girl walked away, the officer continued to apprehend her, taking things to another unnecessary level by shoving the bikini-clad girl’s head down into the ground. Her friends helplessly crowded around her screaming, but they knew that with one sudden move, their heads could be blown off; the office pulled out a gun on the unarmed kids, ultimately causing everyone to back away and run for their lives.
There’s a moment (the 3:25 mark) where I wanted so badly to jump through my computer screen and kick his a––, but just like the young girl and her friends, I, too, would be hopeless and helpless. Her flailing limbs and tears were painstaking, as she cried for her mother. The police officer pulled her braids, mercilessly placed his knees on her back, and told her to stay down on the ground, all while placing her in handcuffs. “I’m on the ground,” she screamed, lying limp on the green grass as he continued to antagonize and manhandle her. As I watched the video in utter and complete shock, I realize, “Damn, I’m not safe either.”
For her, I shed not one tear but many. And while I was glad that death wasn’t the outcome of this situation, I sure as hell wasn’t brushing off what I had just watched. Right then and there, as a I laid in bed, I had a real wake up call. I am not safe in my own country, the country that was built off the tattered backs of my ancestors, only to be recognized as three-fifths of a human being at one point in time. The country that looks down upon my community. The country that has a problem seeing a black girl fly.
At 14 years old, I wasn’t worried about the color of my skin being the foregrounds of having the breaks beat off my a–– by the police for attending a white friend’s pool party, even living in the predominately white, upper middle class area of Metro Atlanta that I did. What I was worried about was showing my Mom the math test I failed (hence, my writing job) and whether my crush liked me. My education, from elementary to high school, was fostered in that same upper class area, and with the help of Georgia’s once-fantastic option of education lotteries, kids from other areas with not-so-great schools were able to obtain access to better schooling. These were blacks mostly–myself included–before my Mom made the decision to move into my school’s area for easier transportation to and from school. But even with the blending of race, color and creed that my education nurtured, I was astounded at the politeness with which the other officers treated the guy filming the entire squabble (who is white), while the black kids are left to muster up the strength to ignore the curses being spewed their way.
I am a part of that “unknown party” of “juveniles” the police reported during the incident at the pool. I am a proud, young black female, but being a young, black and female in America is not safe. It’s not just black men dealing with racial profiling and abuse from the police, we are, too. Ladies, don’t sleep. Instead, stay black but also “stay woke.” I’m no longer looking over the shoulders of just my black men for their safety, but hell, my own too.
When will enough be enough? When will America let my people go? –Ashley Monaé
Photo Credit: Getty Images, YouTube