The Factotum Post


shootingclipI don’t usually watch the six o’clock news because like most of you, I get my news on my phone and for the most part, I stay pretty well informed. This week however, I’ve found myself watching the news on TV quite often, since I’m currently on vacation with my family and I’m trying my best not to spend all day on my phone. As I watched a broadcast from a Miami TV station; which seems to be part of the cable package in this small Caribbean island I’m currently in, I came across another story of a Black Man shot by the police for no apparent reason other than the fact that he’s black. Strangely enough, the man lived to tell the story; which is a great thing because, had he not live to tell the story, we probably wouldn’t hear about it since the big story of the week is all about the Republican National Convention.

The man in question is Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist in North Miami, who works as a caretaker for an autistic young man named Rinaldo. At the time of the shooting, Rinaldo the autistic young man had apparently wandered out into the neighborhood while playing with a toy truck; at which point a neighbor called the police to report that there was a man walking around the neighborhood with a gun threatening suicide.  When the police arrived, Mr. Kinsey was already at the scene and trying to calm Rinaldo down, so that they could return home. A cellphone video shows Mr. Kinsey lying on the asphalt with both hands in the air, telling officers, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.” It could also be seen as Kinsey simultaneously tried to calm his patient down by explaining what was happening as he dealt with the police. If you’ve already guessed by now that Mr. Kinsey was shot, then you’re very aware of what it means to be an unarmed black man in the United States.

Something Mr. Kinsey said that struck as he was interviewed by local TV stations was that the entire time he begged the police not to shoot, he never thought he was the target, he actually thought his patient Rinaldo was the potential target given the fact that he was the one holding a toy truck; which could have been mistaken for a gun. After all, it seems like the police lately can’t make the distinction between a gun and a toy.

 Sadly, it seems, Mr. Kinsley forgot he was a black man in America, who no matter what he did, was always going to make a police officer feel unsafe. Mr. Kinsley forgot that lately in America, your biggest crime is existing while black, and that crime warrants you to be shot dead like an animal. In the past few weeks, I’ve had to do my best to explain Black Lives Matter to friends, family members, and co-workers because it doesn’t seem fathomable to some that racial injustice, discrimination, and white supremacy has prevented black folks from being part of the “All Lives Matter,” utopia that exists out there.  Frankly, I’d like to hear what you have to say about this one. How do you justify a man lying on his back, holding his hands in the air and telling police officers exactly why neither he, nor his patient represented a threat to them yet he wound up with a bullet in his leg?

There were times when I would rationalize why some people failed to understand how difficult it is to be a black American by saying “they’ve never been black, so they can’t feel what we feel.” I realize now that I’ve been wrong all along. You don’t need to live a situation to have an idea of what it feels like. You don’t have to experience a certain pain to know how intensely it hurts. You don’t have to live in darkness to know what it feels to be blind because as human beings, we have that little thing call empathy; which aides us to feel the pains and suffering of our fellow humans.  If you’ve witnessed all these shootings, if you’ve witnessed all these trials and acquittal of police officers who’ve shot and killed unarmed black people; then your problem is not blindness, it’s blatant disregard for a person’s life based on the color of their skin. See now how big of a pile of bovine excrement your cry of “All Lives Matter,” is?

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