by Yvette Carnell
Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a moratorium on protests until after the funeral of two slain NYPD officers, but NYPD cops must not have gotten the memo since they turned their backs on de Blasio in protest at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos.
As expected, de Blasio heaped praise on NYPD cops during the funeral, calling police officers a “special breed,” but cops in the crowed ignored the mayor’s effusive memorial speech. Instead choosing a sacred moment, a ceremony marking the end of a man’s life, to create a spectacle, turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke.
Unlike Obama, de Blasio does have a mixed race son, and even though he doesn’t look like Trayvon, de Blasio has used his brown son and black wife to portray himself as a person empathetic to the needs of the black community. That empathy, however, did not extend to people protesting Eric Garner being choked to death at the hands of police.
“Two families are in deep pain and our NYPD family is in mourning,” he said in a statement. “As I have said, it’s deeply divisive to hold political protests during this period of remembrance.”
Although Rev. Al Sharpton, who asserted himself as a leading voice of protesters, did not call for a moratorium, he did later begin adopting a healing, as opposed to protest, posture. “I talked with Cardinal Dolan yesterday, and after the first of the year we’re talking about doing something big to bring the city together,” Sharpton said, discussing an initiative to unite the city.
The change in tone was expected. Sharpton is a lightening rod for criticism, most of it earned, but even if another protest leader had resisted calls for a moratorium, she too would’ve been lambasted by the mainstream. Saying #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter is one thing, but actually resisting calls to reaffirm that Black lives exist below blue lives in the hierarchy of human value is another thing altogether.
This is not surprising since America routinely engages in the gamification of black life, affording us opportunities to get only symbolic points on the board with race “discussions” and “conversations”, but calling on blacks to abandon our legitimate right to life and freedom when more important concerns emerge. Black people have served in every war since this country’s inception, but are routinely called on to sit by peacefully and patriotically, putting our rights aside, as the U.S. expands imperialism abroad.
In this case, the more important news, more important than the deaths and systemic brutalization of black men–from Abner Louima to stop-and-frisk to Eric Garner–was the killing of two NYPD cops.
The message is always clear: Black people, stop everything, put your pain aside because white people are hurting. Or police officers are hurting. Or the State is hurting.
Mainstream America, however, is never called upon to extend itself to blacks or to pause their grief in honor of black life. So even though Mayor De Blasio denounced protesters for resisting calls for a moratorium, he probably won’t utter a word about the rogue cops who disrespected him at a slain officer’s funeral.
In the face of rogue cops and a State that allows them to murder with impunity, black people have a decision to make. Will we follow the footsteps of the Misleadership black class and tip our hat, apologizing for things we have no control over, to assuage the pain of others? Or we will do what is best for us? No apologies.
For me, the answer is clear. If police can come out by the thousands to mourn one slain officer, then transform that sacred moment into a protest moment, where they express their collective disdain for the city’s mayor, then so can we. This is especially true since our revocation of rights goes back centuries and isn’t only tied to the actions of one mentally unstable killer.
It is time for us to display a collective force to meet those arms of the State who routinely gun us down, then, with a straight face devoid of any sympathy or humanity, render the kill justifiable on the grounds that unarmed black men can only be rendered non-threatening with a bullet, or 14 bullets, as was the case with Dontre Hamilton.
This is our opportunity to disengage totally from the reflexive coercion we feel to adjust to fit the emotional yearnings of the fractured and racist American psyche. We are not Mammy. We are not The Butler. We are not The Help. We must say, with one voice, that the emotional dark spaces that exist within America’s psyche were earned, not created by us and cannot be healed by us, nor should they be. That is not our cross to bear.
When an officer dies, it is not our responsibility to show up and place a flower near the area where he died, so don’t expect it. As a matter of fact, don’t expect anything from Black America because we have unfinished business in this country, and until those wrongs are made right, we’re turning our collective backs, just like the NYPD.