Outrage, disgust, confusion, anger are all words that describe the sentiments felt when we think of the latest in police brutality casualties. Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were both hardworking Black men trying to make ends meet for their family. Both of their lives came to a tragic end this week at the hands of police officers who are supposed to uphold the law, protect and serve. None of the protecting and serving happened with these two Black men. Instead, they both could be seen fading from this world, as one of their killings were captured on cellphone video, and the aftermath of the other killing was live streamed on Facebook for all of America to witness.
So, what happened? Two different situations in different states. Same outcome. Sterling was shot in the chest, point blank range. Philando was shot on the side, point blank range. Both victims were legally carrying concealed weapons. Both were fatally shot by police officers of the “law.” Both men left behind families and loved ones who cared deeply for them and depended heavily on them to provide.
Now what? Why do these senseless tragedies continue to take place? Why does it seem that #BlackLivesMatter only in a hashtag? How do we band together as a community to effect change … this time? We’ve protested before. We’ve marched before. We’ve conducted sit-ins before. We’ve boycotted before. What can we do differently this time to really make a difference? The Justice Department has opened up a case on Alton Sterling, and we can assume that one will be opened on behalf of Philando Castile as well. But is that enough?
I don’t have all of the answers. I don’t know when #BlackLives will actually matter. I don’t know how long our community can continue to accept such egregious behavior by cloaked killers. But what I do know is that we have to keep fighting, and standing up for our rights, and continue to speak out about injustice, especially against our Black men. We must continue to be a voice for the victims long after they’re gone. We have to ensure that these victims did not die in vain: #PhilandoCastile, #AltonSterling, #DelrawnSmall, #EricGarner, #SandraBland, #TamirRice, #MikeBrown, and the list goes on. We have to continue to make their #BlackLivesMatter.