As Trump-fueled agitators argue that activists for police reform are anti-police, PM member and blogger Marsha DaBolt reminds us how much blood has been shed across the lines of our society, just and unjust, and what that should teach us.
/By Marsha DaBolt/ It is unfortunate and misguided to think that the Black Lives Matter Movement activists are against the men and women who chose to put their lives on the line to ensure our safety and freedoms are protected. Our police and military are amazing people that do amazing things for our communities. We are not against any citizens that stand for the rights of others no matter what color, religion, and sexual orientation. This statement is not intended for them. This statement is intended for those who question our patriotism, delete the souls of black people in order to demonize them, and those whose fear and ignorance rules their lives.
Black people are proud people with a long, agonizing, and triumphant history. Our ancestors could never use the word immigrant. They did not come to this country willingly, fleeing from famine, war, and poverty. They were stripped of their culture, their names, and dignity. This was done in order to build a nation. Enslaved people, along with Native Americans, were used unwillingly to pave the way for a nation not intended for them. A nation who used their bloodied bodies and torment for prosperity.
"When the Colonists were staggering wearily under the cross of woe, a Negro came to the front and bore the cross to the victory of the glorious martyrdom."
"...we find him choosing the better part and Crispus Attucks, a Negro, was the first to shed his blood on State street, Boston, that the white American might enjoy liberty forever, though his race remained in slavery."
-Booker T. Washington
These things were said of Crispus Attucks, the first man who died on the dawn of a revolution, who happened to be black. Black people have been fighting in every war fought on this land, as well as foreign soil, for all Americans. In WWI and WWII our men and women fought bravely even though they knew coming home or serving in the States meant they would not receive the same privileges allotted to white Americans. When black men and women join the police force and military they fully realize it won't be easy. Knowing racism and ignorance will be a challenge and that they will have to face injustice. They chose to serve anyway and upon their deaths, their families, knowing the hardship they experience, still elect to have the American flag draped over their coffins.
It's hard to believe that justice will be served when some states still allow the Confederate flag to fly over their buildings of laws. Symbols are used to remind people of how their causes are represented. A flag that represents fallen foes should never fly over any government building. Trying to give it the excuse of honoring the soldiers that fought bravely is not reality. Their fight was to destroy our nation in a pathetic attempt to hold on to a past of shame.
My mother told stories about her childhood, stories that are worse than any Brothers Grimm tale. Black men, women, and children as young as nine were dragged out of their homes or chased down by a mob and then lynched. These people were so proud of their deeds, congratulating and patting each other on the back. That's not a childhood, that's a nightmare. Even when decent people spoke up against the oppressors, they were beaten or sometimes lynched. It made it clear to other good people to be silent. Sometimes at night my mother could see their fires and hear their chants in the distance from the back porch of her house. When finished, they drove by her house with their flag.
When an innocent child's last act of love for his little brother, to go and buy candy from a convenience store, ends in murder something is wrong with society. Trayvon Martin had the rights of an American, as any person does, to walk safely through the streets of his community or any community. A child that only wanted to go home and be with his family. It was just that pure and innocent. George Zimmerman did not see young Trayvon as an American walking home. He saw Trayvon as everything wrong with America. A black male not knowing his place. Trayvon looked out of place in Mr. Zimmerman's "American Neighborhood". Consciously or unconsciously, Mr. Zimmerman decided to become a member of a mob just like the ones from my mother's childhood. As for the rest of his mob, they couldn't be there personally to congratulate him, pat him on the back, and say job well done. They did one better by donating $200,000 to Mr. Zimmerman’s legal defense fund. In addition, Mr. Zimmerman made the carnival-like classic move of selling his gun just like the mobs, who would take pieces of rope from hangings for souvenirs or sell them.
Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right to disobey a dispatcher, a representative of the police force, when told not to follow young Trayvon. Young Trayvon was denied police protection by Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right to hunt young Trayvon. Young Trayvon was denied his legal right and constitutional right to walk anywhere. Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right to stop young Trayvon. Young Trayvon was denied the right of safe passage by Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right to assault young Trayvon. Young Trayvon was denied the right of being unharmed by Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right to recklessly endanger the life of a minor. Young Trayvon was denied the right of becoming an adult by Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was granted the right of due process of the law. Young Trayvon’s act of buying candy and walking home to be with his family was such an illegal, heinous, and horrific crime that the jury agreed with Mr. Zimmerman 100%. Mr. Zimmerman did everything wrong that night; the only thing he did right was to put another black child in his grave. Just like the juries from my mother's childhood did, when the court wanted to play pretend justice. I do have to say in the jury's defense, justice and laws have always been nemeses.
It is hard to believe that justice is like that. When Mr. Zimmerman took Trayvon's life it was devastating, but Trayvon has left us with a light – a light as small as a mustard seed, like the Bible said of faith. With every person that felt his light it grew. With every march it grew. With every prayer it grew. With every speech it grew. With every song it grew. With every hug it grew. His light now burns so bright that it has illuminated millions of people's hearts. It will never die in my heart as well as others. Thank you, Trayvon.
Dr. Charles Drew, a researcher and pioneer, discovered a safe and effective way to perform blood transfusions. His work saved millions of lives all around the world and led to the formation of the American Red Cross blood bank. His life mattered. Maya Angelou, a writer and a poet, used her talents to be a voice of a nation that wanted tolerance. Her life mattered. Doris Miller, on December 7, 1941, used his courage to defend the West Virginia and its crew when Pearl Harbor was under attack by manning the guns, shooting down Japanese planes and carrying wounded sailors to safety. One of those sailors’ descendants may be reading this now. His life mattered. Martin Luther King Jr. was a champion for civil rights and made it possible for me to marry a white man, because my life mattered to him.
I am an American who happens to be black. I wrote this to tell you we know all lives matter. That was never the question. The question was do YOU know that black lives matter?
Marsha Dabolt is a Prince George’s resident and Progressive Maryland activist.