(Op-Ed) If You Let Me Live: The Modern Plight of Black Folk
Updated: Jan 9
Author: Shamon Lawrence
Editor: Bincheng Mao
8 minutes. 46 seconds. That was the length of time a police officer ignored the cries of a man who was not given due process. Every breath was taken from his body until he breathed his last; calling out for his deceased mother. The death of George Floyd sparked a modern movement.
Credit: "George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Protest Erupt Around the World," Insider
As I probe through every news outlet and read about more deaths of innocent Black people, I cannot help but wonder: what if? What if Black people were given due process, would we need a movement? What if we defund the police, will I have to be tortured with the sight of someone who looks like me laying on the ground; dead?
Last week, I voiced that “In my mind, I play out these scenarios of what I would do if I was suspected of a crime I know I did not commit. What would I say? How would I act? How do I tame my body? How do I make it less offensive to their ideas of white settler colonialism?” I constantly ask myself these questions, but I ask myself: why? Why must I carry this burden of trying to save my life from being torn away from me? Do police officers wonder what they can do to save my life?
If you let me live. I have pondered this statement in my psyche for as long as I can remember. If you let me live, I’ll make you proud. If you let me live, I’ll never commit a crime.If you let me live, I’ll teach your children and their descendants to be the most erudite humans to walk this Earth. If you let me live, there will be no limit to the marvelous things I will do. If you let me live.
Please, let me live. Let my brothers and sisters live, let us live.
Frederick Douglass said, “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” For so long we have relied on talking about the Black struggle, and now it is the time to act on our pain by striving toward progress.
Credit: "Protesters in Washington D.C., Continue to Call for Justice," The New York Times
With every foot that has touched the asphalt and marched toward a common goal, we have placed action behind our words. Still, there is more to be done. I know we must do more because I read an Instagram post that stated there have been over one hundred police shootings since the death of George Floyd. This result is the antithesis of the outcome we expect from our crusade. Give us a chance, let us live. You captured our ancestors, set us behind, held us down; you oppressed us.
Imagine how tranquil this world would be. Imagine how the innocent minds of children would no longer be tainted with racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. Imagine Black people getting the same opportunities as white people. Imagine defunding the white-supremacist police structure, and replacing it with funds in communities that were once over-policed. Imagine this world. It is possible, but only if you let me live.
Although the words on this page are repetitious, so are the occasions of Black folk being disproportionately murdered at the hands of police. Stop this cycle; this incessant rerun of my worst nightmare. Let. Me. Live.
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