A lot of things have been coming from the media recently which have disappointed me, enraged me and even turned me completely off. But in watching this morning’s coverage, tucked between the bombardment of debate coverage, was a segment on a little 9 year old girl named Zianna Oliphant from Charlotte, North Carolina. If you have not seen it, please google it and do so. I have also included a link. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/girl-powerful-speech-charlotte-city-council-article-1.2808304)
She touched my heart and made me weep. Her cry was for the end of police brutality.
Some of the riveting comments she made were “We have tears. And we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.”
“It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore.”
“Children should not have to go to the graveyards and bury them.”
“We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We have needs and we have rights”.
And she is absolutely right. She is calling on law enforcement to stop the killings. What is so profound about all of this is the fact that this is a child saying this. This is a child feeling this. This is a child begging for the life of her family as well as other black families.
Something is drastically wrong in our country. Fear is driving the very ones who should be defending us, to kill us, while stating they feel threatened. This is while our men are either running away or standing facing officers with arms raised and still dying. So many people, or critics, if you will, can nonchalantly sum it up by saying “Well they should stop running or listen to and respond to the officer when they are told.”
But I would challenge you to accept the reality that it is not always that easy. While I love the fact that we have law enforcement officers that do a wonderful job, one that I would never want to take on, there are also a few officers who just may not be fit to be behind a badge. Those are the ones making the life of an officer so very difficult right now in the publics’ eyes. This child should not have these fears. She should not have these heartbreaking experiences.
As a parent, I want to cradle her in my arms and tell her things will be o.k. But if you listen carefully, she fully understands her reality. She is right that as black people we do have needs and we do have rights. No child should be standing before a Common Council stating this. She should be playing with friends and being sheltered from the horrible realities of this life as long as possible. But she has shared her realities. And they are painful to hear.
Unless we can get a handle on this “out of control” killing of blacks in this country, I do believe things will continue to devolve. I would venture to say that many of you may not fully get it until you walk a mile in the shoes of that reality. And unless you are a person of color in America, your walk will not be the same. Outside of that, let the words of a child, desperate for peace and security pierce your heart and help you to see how very wrong things are right now.
My reality is I am holding my breath in fear every single day…for me, my sons, my nephews and the loved ones of so many other friends and family. And in the words of an innocent child, “We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this”.