The day after our wedding my husband was pulled over after a police officer clocked a man in a red truck speeding. Although the truck also pulled over, he eventually sped off, leaving Hassan to take the hit. Because my husband's mama had the "you are a black man and so this is what you need to know about the cops" talk with him as a young boy, my husband knew the drill. He rolled down all 4 of his windows, turned the car off and placed his hands on the wheel. The cop approached, told my husband he was speeding...even though my husband knew he wasnt, he knew he could not object. The cop immediately asked if there were weapons in the car...for no good reason, just because he could. My husband said "yes, my pistol is on my right hip, holstered and in position 1. My CHL is in my wallet which is in my right pocket." The cop asked to see his ID as well as the CHL. My husband then says, "I am reaching for my wallet as you instructed." As my husband reached for it, the cop quickly reached for his own holstered gun and said, "whoa man, don't move so quickly. You should really not make any sudden movements like that." What is most troubling about this story is that my husband could have been about 5 seconds and a misunderstanding away from being gone.
This is his reality every day. It's my reality every day that this man could at one moment be minding his business and the next be live on a FB feed bleeding and dying due to some bullshit.
Yesterday it was Alton Sterling, today it is Philando Castile. Tomorrow it could be Hassan. Saturday it could be my Dad. To say this is an epidemic is an understatement. The real problem is that there is nothing that my husband or any other black man can do to prevent this from happening. It's mighty convenient for people to opine about the "background" of the deceased as a way to make sense of the non-sensical...perhaps he shouldn't have had a gun, perhaps he shouldn't have had minor traffic infractions on his record, perhaps he shouldn't have looked so menacing, perhaps he shouldn't have tried to talk back, perhaps he shouldn't have worn a hoodie, sold illegal cigarettes, and the list goes on and on.
Don't get me wrong: I support the police. What I don't support is waking up tomorrow and wondering whose name will become a hashtag...
Photo Credit: Nico Beard