Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America 

We invited East Bay residents to share their thoughts and words. Here's what they had to say.

Page 3 of 7

I've never written a letter to the police before. I've marched in protests, posted pictures on Facebook, and gone to bed. Good for me, I would think. "You tried." How selfish, really, assuming that I'd really made a difference and really cared. Of course I feel empathetic for those that are lost, but, like I said: Deep down, I'm pretty jaded. And I know nothing of politics. And I have my own shit to deal with.

If I can feel that way, what stops a cop from feeling this way, besides government-appointed authority and support, and powerful weapons? This makes me uneasy.

I'm conflicted, once again. I know that I have power, arguably more than my Black brothers and sisters, as cops continue to prove to us. I have to try. Have to.

So, I start by simply proposing: What are you going to do?

Hannah Knight

Oakland


What Is At Stake

Rage.

Do not despair dear brothers and sisters, terrorism thrives on infecting our hearts and minds with immobilizing fear.

Do not give in.

We thought once police officers wore body cameras killings would stop.

Dontre Hamilton.

We thought if we told our children to not wear hoodies they could be safe.

Eric Garner.

We thought, hashtags, we can't let people forget our names.

John Crawford III.

We took it to the streets.

Michael Brown Jr.

Started a movement.

Tanisha Anderson.

Wrote songs, created art, shared our despair on social media.

Tamir Rice.

And now, what is there left to do?

Sandra Bland.

Our freedom can't wait, not one more hour, not one minute not one second.

White supremacy is a disease that asphyxiates the host slower than the ones that come to contact with it.

We are out of time.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What is at stake?

Our fucking humanity.

Faiza Farah

Oakland


Any Time, Without Reason

What an ironic wake-up call that the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile happened right after July 4. Their destruction at the hands of police shows yet again that American "liberty and justice for all" is a myth, that Black people are not totally free in this country. The demise of these new martyrs, and the probable release of their killers, is so familiar and predictable at this point that it is sickening.

The insult of it amplifies the hopelessness, anger, and despair that Black communities around the country have been feeling for centuries. The sniper killing of police officers at the Dallas protest is very troubling, too. (More killing inspired by injustice!)

But the nation's reaction is the real tragedy. We refuse to grapple with the issues of systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality that caused the deaths of Sterling and Castile (after Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and too many more) that brought about the protest in the first place. We hurry to forget the root causes and deny that this ugly, constant devaluing of Black life is truly part of our national culture.

The police deaths in Dallas — the pain, fear, outrage they bring — present an opportunity for many (especially white) Americans to experience a taste of what Black Americans feel all the time. We must recognize and change the fact that in America Blacks can be killed by police at any time, without reason, like Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.

Umi Vaughan

Oakland


Listen!

#BlackLivesMatter.

Oh, here she goes with that ...

Stop!

Listen.

Yes, you.

Really read these words and let them soak in.

Once again, we're having the argument about why it's #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter.

Have you taken the time to listen to the valid points raised by those who chant those words? Have you not watched the numerous stories of minorities killed by police? We know some of those killings were under very questionable circumstances. Do you understand why this is the cry of so many protesters? It doesn't mean other lives don't matter. It means, as a community, we're concerned about why this keeps happening.

As a Black woman, I fear my father or brothers could be one police stop away from a hashtag. We want our lives to matter, too.

Brenda Carden

Oakland


A Side of PTSD

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and others didn't deserve to be executed by police. They also don't deserve to be blamed for their deaths. But, that's what white Americans do: disavow systemic racism and blame the oppressed for their oppression.

I've raised sons. Black sons. Unlike white parents, Black parents must caution our children about police encounters, because we know it's only a matter of time before a cop in Everytown, America, stops and frisks or pulls them over because they "fit the description" for (insert crime here). Innocence be damned.

I thought if my sons were good people, if they looked and sounded like good people, they would be less likely to be physically or mentally harmed by the police and racist white Americans. They have average names. They dress and speak appropriately (respectfully). Their education and reading were stressed. Diverse friendships were encouraged.

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