Bay Area Voices on Racial Injustice: “Heads I live, tails I don’t”

This originally appeared at Kalw

As the Bay Area marks the two-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, demands for police accountability continue in the aftermath of major scandals that rocked the Oakland and San Francisco¬†police departments.

When the East Bay Express invited Bay Area residents to submit personal reflections on racial injustice, dozens wrote in. Among them was writer LeRon Barton, who’s struggled with staying true to himself as a black man.

LERON BARTON: If I come in contact with a police officer, it’s a flip of a coin. You know, heads I live, tails I don’t. And hopefully it comes up heads.
To listen to the interview, click here

We Are Doing Nothing Wrong

I cannot go a day without watching the news or reading a report stating a young Black male or female has been assaulted, brutalized, shot, or killed by a police officer. The usual explanations are “It looked like he/she had a weapon,” or the go-to “I was in fear of my life.”

Every moment we breathe, our life is on the line because of the color of our skin. Some may say, “Well if you just said sir” or ask, “Were you doing something you shouldn’t have been doing or somewhere you shouldn’t have been?” It’s as if our Blackness immediately signals trouble.

Our elders will tell us to behave properly or act a certain way, to avoid the white glare. But I am here to tell you: We are doing nothing wrong.

Our lives, our mere existence on this planet, causes discomfort, aggression, and contempt. Ever since we have been brought to America, there has been a level of malice directed toward the Black man and woman that can only be equaled by the treatment of the Native American. Why are we hated? I have no idea. But I do know changing the way we dress, the way we talk, act in public, or walk around in this world will not matter.

Being Black is automatically being a target for harm, and I don’t want any Black man or woman to blame themselves for the way the world sees or treats them. It is not your fault.

LeRon Barton

San Francisco

 

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