Being the Good Guy with a Gun Doesn't Matter When You're Black
Senseless killings of black people in this country by white police officers continues to make me more and more furious. Every time I hear about one, I don’t think I can get any more upset than the time before, but I do. There isn’t any part of me that allows me the privilege to not feel something deep down. There’s isn’t a part of me that can just turn my head and act like it didn’t happen. My brother is a black man in America. He is 27-years old. Anytime I hear a news story, or read an article, or do research, and learn of another innocent black man who was killed, my brother comes to mind. It could’ve been him. Saying it could have been him has nothing to do with the fact that he is a college graduate, he has a good job, he is a wonderful father, he is well-known by others, and he has a good reputation. It has to do with the fact that this is the America we live in.
Two weeks ago, 26-year-old Jemel Roberson was killed in a bar in Chicago, Illinois. Jemel was a security guard at the bar and was wearing a shirt that visibly read “Security”. Witnesses told police a fight had broken out and someone started shooting, which is when Jemel jumped in to detain the man who was involved with the shooting. Who did the cops kill when they arrived? Jemel. They killed the black man who was doing his job as a security guard. They killed the black man who acted bravely to protect others. They killed Jemel because he was black.
If Jemel Roberson had been white, would the police officer who shot him have seen that he was dressed as a security guard, like witnesses were saying? Would the police officers have heard the witnesses saying Jemel was a hero? Would they have seen him as a man trying to help innocent people, instead of just jumping to gun him down? The answer to all of those is YES.
In an alternate world the news headlines would have read: “Brave Security Guard Heroically Subdued Shooter“. But, that’s not what it said. Why? Because we live in a country so deeply plagued with racism that killing a black man is okay as long as you make bogus excuses. People were saying that Jemel should have listened to the cops and followed their orders. Really, though?! Stop with that mess. Also, saying that a black man was killed because he didn’t listen to the cops’ orders can take us to a conversation about police officers and racist respectability politics used to uphold white supremacy. Like a black person should always bow down to a white person. NOPE.
Last week, Emantic Bradford, Jr. was killed in Alabama. He was 21 years old. He was killed by a police officer who mistakenly thought he was responsible for a mall shooting. He was TWENTY-ONE. Emantic was previously honorably discharged from the Army. But hey, who cares about black men who serve in the military, right? All that talk about respecting the military is really only reserved for white people. Let’s be real. I mean, sure, it’s said to black men in uniform every day, but what’s left out is the “stay in your place” part.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the military, a veteran, a lawyer, a doctor, a great college student, a family man, well-known in the community, or if you have a promising future. None of that matters when all America truly sees is your skin color. Both Jemel Roberson and Emantic Bradford, Jr. should be alive today. But they aren’t, and it is clear that race played a critical role in their deaths.
Oh, and now they’re saying his decision to “brandish” a gun on the scene—a gun he had a permit for—led to his own death. Yesterday morning, a statement was released by police department that said: “We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene.”
The amount of mental gymnastics people will do to make excuses for indefensible behavior is always baffling. JUST STOP. The whole “good guy with a gun” thing should be “good white guy with a gun.” People say you need have a permit to carry a gun. Okay, well Emantic had one and he was still shot dead by police. People say you shouldn’t be hiding your gun and it should be in plain sight. Okay, well that is also done. They’re all about the right to bear arms and upholding the second amendment, but in reality, that’s only applicable to white people. If you’re black, have a gun, tell the police you have a gun, and do as police say, you will still get killed. It doesn’t matter. I mean, lets think back to Philando Castile. He OLD POLICE he had a gun in his glove compartment and was reaching for his ID, and police killed him anyway.
America has never been a fan of black people having guns, though. In 1967, Ronald Reagan who was the governor of California at the time, signed the Mulford Act. The Mulford Act was a bill that prohibited the open carry of firearms. It was also called the Panther Bill because Black Panthers were arming themselves to fight against violent racism and oppression. They even had Police Patrols set up in different communities that were put in place to help black people know their legal rights if and when they got arrested, because they knew white America wouldn’t be honest. So yes, this bill was put in place because black men were carrying guns. That’s it. Talk about white fragility, huh?
Don’t tell me that the Constitution upholds rights for everyone in this country when the Constitution was written when my ancestors were shackled and sold like cattle to live lives where their bodies were exploited for American profit. Don’t you tell me what the Constitution is about when the systemic racism that runs rampant in this country allows the government to ignore the Constitution and twist it how they want.
It doesn't matter if you're a good guy with a gun. If you’re black, the police shoot and kill you and then ask questions later. I’m sick of it. These acts of violence are indefensible. Our skin color isn’t a crime. Black lives matter.