Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quote Of The Moment (2)

Yesterday, I received a flurry of e-mails asking why I hadn’t posted any commentary about the tragic murder of Sean Bell at the hands of undercover New York police officers.

To be honest, I just didn’t have anything to say.

Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of thoughts about the incident. How could I not recognize the absurdity of 50 shots being directed at three unarmed Black men? How could I not identify the outright lie that police brutality had followed Rudy Giuliani out of office? How could I not see that this shooting was a public declaration about the emptiness of Black life?

Despite these thoughts, and countless others, I simply couldn’t muster the energy or power to say or write anything. Instead, I did the only thing that I was able to do.

I cried.

The thing is, I didn’t cry because of the absurdity of 50 rounds of unreturned gunfire being shot at three unarmed men as they were driving away. After all, this isn’t the first time that the police have used Black bodies for target practice. I didn’t even cry because Bell was murdered hours before his wedding. In fact, I find the whole “he was one of the good ones” conversation disturbing and counter-productive. Should we not be equally outraged if he were unemployed or homeless?

Upon hearing the news, I cried for a much simpler reason: I’m tired of Black people dying.

In spite of all of the protests, marches, speeches, books, articles, and legislation, Black people are still dying from poverty, drugs, violence, and preventable diseases. Even worse, very little about the world suggests that anyone cares. Although I refuse to believe that our efforts are worthless, I’m nonetheless struck by a deep and nagging pessimism of the intellect that clashes with the dogged optimism of my will. Most days, the optimism wins out. Yesterday, it didn’t… It couldn’t.

And so I cried.

I cried because another Black life was lost for no good reason. I cried because a wife lost her husband and a daughter lost her father. I cried because I knew that Sean was merely a proxy for millions of Black men whose very existence demands the use of deadly force. Most of all, I cried because there was nothing that I could do about any of it.

But that was yesterday. Today, I refuse to remain prisoner to this or any other event. Today, I choose to be different. Today, I will help to fight (and write) back. Today I will be neither helpless nor hopeless. Today, I know we will win.

--Professor Marc Lamont Hill

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