Black men are being slaughtered across this country, but where’s the outrage? Where are all the soldiers with automatic weapons? The policemen on every corner? Where are the health department officials calling for a cure to this epidemic?
I don’t mean outrage from citizens shouting and marching. I’m referring to outrage from human service professionals, the medical community, the president. I’m still waiting for President Barack Obama to interrupt my favorite television show because he has declared a state of emergency. We send soldiers to other countries to stop killings and called upon reservists to deal with the so-called “riots” that occurred in Baltimore. But no one’s coming to the rescue over the everyday deaths of black men on U.S. city streets.
Do black lives really matter? Here in Baltimore, the answer is a resounding no. I’m not one to play the race card, but it’s in the deck for a reason. When a white woman was murdered in Roland Park, there were cadets canvassing the community for clues. But when Antonio Buckson was murdered on Mother’s Day of all days in Ellwood Park — silence. He was just another black man dead in the streets of Baltimore.
He was also my baby brother.
No other group of people could experience this type of incident without calling for the cavalry.
I’m one of those human service professionals who need to display the type of outrage that can spark a nationwide response. I fielded a call from an African American parent of a young black male, recently. She was interested in signing her son up for GED classes, she said — she doesn’t want to see him murdered. Is that all that life has to offer for black men? Are we predestined for extinction?
Maybe that’s it, the thing that would finally get some attention. When animals are considered vulnerable or endangered, there is a swift and widespread response. We protect tigers because they are precious. The world frowns upon those who attempt to kill cheetahs; what magnificent creatures. The nation grieved for a silverback gorilla who was killed to save a little boy. We don’t want to imagine a world without our most treasured animals, yet we’re ambivalent toward black human lives. Will the day come when it becomes rare to see an African American man?
I have reached a point of frustration and, quite honestly, embarrassment. How can a country as great as the United States allow a war to rage in its own backyard, while we’re fighting wars on the soil of other nations? I’m embarrassed that we incarcerate a large segment of our population for nonviolent crimes. I’m embarrassed because our prison industry is so profitable. I’m embarrassed that the police department charged with protecting me is really out to harm me, according to the Justice Department’s recent report on Baltimore police.
I am a black man, and being one can cost me my life. It cost my brother his. Will it take my son’s life, too?
As you see, I have a lot of questions. More surprising is that millions of Americans aren’t asking the same questions. Have we become desensitized to violence? I need someone to stand up and cry with me: “Things must change in our country.”
How long will it take before we understand?