On March 18, Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old Black man was murdered in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento Police after the police claim his cell phone was a gun. While many Black people were dealing with the devastation of yet another murder by the police, just days later, Saheed Vassell, a 35-year-old Black man, diagnosed with bipolar disorder was murdered by the police, who claim the showerhead he was holding, looked like a gun. The news of Vassell’s death came on my Twitter feed just as I was about to teach a workshop to Black youth on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. How could I stand in front of them and tell them that their lives mattered when everything in the world is telling them that was not the case? Even Faith Linthicum, a nurse that was fired for saying that Stephon Clark deserved to die, raised over 20,000 dollars on GoFundMe. Being racist has always been lucrative in America.
I watched the funeral of Stephon Clark, and my heart shattered. I was once again in this awkward space, mourning children that I never birthed, mentally preparing to bury children that were never biologically mine. But somehow, they all were mine. Trayvon, Aiyana, Sandra, Mike, Rekia, and now Stephon. They were my brothers, my sisters, my cousins, my sons, my daughters…
This photo of Stephon’s brother, Stevante captured everyhing that I was feeling. On one hand, fighting for justice, screaming Black Lives Matter with a megaphone yet agonizing and in despair at the same time. How strong are we required to be? I wanted to keep fighting but I needed a moment to grieve. I needed to take my mind off the state of Black people in this nation. Just one moment to breathe. I scrolled through my Facebook feed looking for images of cute cats and puppies and as if on cue, CNN posted a video of an officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee dancing with Black people.
The Facebook thread of this video had thousands of positive comments. And I sat looking at this officer dancing just shaking my head. Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that ALL police are bad. I believe some people join the police force to be a positive influence in their community. I believe some police officers really want to make this world a better place. I believe some police officers genuinely believe and live out the mantra of protecting and serving the people. However, I will always believe no matter how good a police officer may be; they are part of a corrupt system. It is fruit from a poisonous tree.
This has been pointed out numerous times online and my friend posted it on his Twitter feed.
Hello! It seems EVERY TIME there is a police shooting up pops a video of an officer, in full uniform, breakdancing, pop locking, voguing, duckwalking, twerking, moonwalking, or doing the Single’s Ladies dance. These videos, of course, go viral and is a convenient way for people to say, “See not ALL police are bad. They know traditionally Black dances.”
REALLY? Being able to have a little blue-eyed soul? Being able to clap on the beat? Being able to move with rhythm? Is that the measuring stick? One stanky leg and ya’ll ready to invite EVERYONE to the cookout!
I DO NOT CARE that an officer can break dance.
I DO NOT CARE that an officer can do the electric slide.
I DO NOT CARE that an officer knows every step to Single Ladies and Formation.
I DO NOT CARE that an officer can Milly Rock on any block.
Dancing with Black people means NOTHING TO ME!
Because I know you can dance with a Black person one minute and pull out your gun and kill an unarmed Black person in the next moment.
You can electric slide with Black people one minute and refuse to stand up against your fellow officers that have murdered Black people in the next minute.
You can pop lock with a Black male one minute and have your knee on his back the next minute.
You can hit dem folks with a Black woman one minute and be raping her in the back of your squad car the next minute.
I will be impressed when you Michael Jackson moonwalk your way into your sergeant’s office and tell them an officer used unnecessary force.
I will dance alongside you when you Cabbage Patch your way to the witness stand and say, “I was corrupt, and so were members of my unit.”
I will pop lock when you say, “I am not supporting this officer with my money on their GoFund Me page because when they murdered an innocent person they were wrong.”
I will start stomping my feet to the beat when you admit that you used deadly force when it was not necessary.
I will clap my hands to the rhythm when you stand up and say Black men and women have been unjustly targeted by the police.
I will dance at your wedding when you admit THE TRUTH, that you NEVER feared for your life, that you NEVER thought a cellphone or wallet was a gun, that your so called FEAR was driven by racism.
You, Dear Officer, are blinded if you believe our dances are for you to co-opt to show solidarity.
When we sang songs, it was not for your entertainment. We sang songs that were melodies for freedom.
When we danced, our feet moved in tune to our liberation!
When we sway to NWA or Kendrick Lamar it is a war cry!
With every beat of the drum and movement of our bodies, we were dancing towards freedom and that, Dear Officer, can NEVER be replicated.