I can’t breathe

9 Dec

This weekend I read a heartbreaking Facebook post by an American friend. ‘I’d hate for my mom to worry about her grandson as she did about me and my brother. Telling us we should be mindful of not provoking police in any way, since they would only see our size and skin color, and not our youthful faces. I don’t want my unborn son to have to go through that. That’s why I hope I’ll have a girl.’

Statistics sadly show he’s right: being a black male in the United States means you have 21% more chance of being shot dead by police than a white male. Not because black men are more criminal. No, because – mainly white- police officers are scared to death of black men.

Darren Wilson, the police officer from Ferguson who killed Mike Brown, felt like a ‘five-year-old holding on to a demon’, he told the Grand Jury who decided he will not be prosecuted. ‘Hulk Hogan’ he called unarmed Brown, who was just as tall and about the same weight as himself. Wilson fired 12 rounds.

‘I can’t breathe!’says Eric Garner, the big friendly giant from Staten Island. Not once, not twice, no: 11 times. But the police officers who throw themselves on him don’t let go. They don’t see a big friendly giant, but an illegal tobaco seller. A BLACK illegal tobaco seller. They press him even harder to the ground. Untill Eric Garner stops moving. He would never wake up again.

Just like Tamir Rice, the boy who was fatally shot for holding a toy gun and not raising his hands fast enough. Victim of the very same fear. He was 12.

And still, there are people who say that skin color has nothing to do with this. #AllLivesMatter they tweet in reply to the worldwide #BlackLivesMatter. Yes, all lives matter. But the problem is: some lives apparently matter more than others.

2 Responses to “I can’t breathe”

  1. Marc Way December 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    It’s truly heartbreaking that many people in the US believe we live in a post racial society. These recent events make us both angry and confused–angry about the problem and confused about how to solve it. Not sure if wearing cameras will do the trick. Great article my love! Keep on inspiring.

    • kirstenvandenhul December 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Thanks Marc, I can only imagine how hard this must be for a nation to overcome.. But with people like you around, I stay hopeful! Hugs from Amsterdam

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