No justice. No peace. No more asking for change. We need to demand it.

On Sept. 23, the Jefferson County Grand Jury passed its decision regarding the killing of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department. Only one of the three officers involved was indicted and no one was charged with murder. Yet again, this country painfully reminds us that there is no such thing as justice in America, especially if you’re Black. 

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time,” said James Baldwin.
These words have resonated with me now more than ever.

The Jefferson County Grandy Jury’s decision regarding Taylor’s death in the hands of police officers makes one thing clear: Black lives still don’t matter in America.  

(Sharon Wu | The Poly Post)

Quite literally, the apartment building that was shot received more justice than Taylor. That’s what this verdict really tells us. That Black lives are worth less than property. 

Black people have yet again been failed by an institution white people have told us would peacefully bring about change; it did not. If something does not fundamentally change soon, we will be out of peaceful options. 

I want to be clear: I don’t want violence – especially when I know my people will suffer the most from it – but then again, I didn’t want to live under a white supremacist police state either. I am simply acknowledging reality. 

The grand jury’s verdict is another example of why there is no justice in this country, especially not for Black people.  

Only one of the three officers involved was even fired and indicted. He was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets that went into Taylor’s neighbor’s building. Not a single murder charge. 

That means this officer was charged, not for being involved in the extrajudicial murder of an innocent Black woman in her own home by the police, but for damaging property. 

This is exactly why I don’t give a single damn about property damage at protests. It’s why I don’t care about a building being burned down, especially not one owned and insured by a billion-dollar corporation. 

Because property and buildings can be rebuilt but a human life can never be replaced. 

People love to whitewash and misquote Martin Luther King Jr. to moralize and condemn property damage, but they should actually read what he said: 

“A riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” 

I attended a protest over the summer. It was an unforgettable experience for two reasons. 

It was surreal to be surrounded by that many people who were all gathered in solidarity for one purpose. The amount of love, positivity and passion I felt as we peacefully marched was incredibly powerful. 

But reality quickly set in as soon as I noticed, lining the streets, rooftops and all along the highway, were stonefaced police officers, eyes obscured by dark shades, armed to the teeth with military grade equipment as surveillance drones buzzed overhead. 

It felt like the city was being occupied by a foreign army. My passion wasn’t discouraged by this, but that reminder of just how much of a police state we live under has stuck with me ever since. 

Even the way police shootings are reported on has become complicit, with sanitized language such as “officer involved shooting” instead of “man killed by police” obfuscating the injustice. 

We are currently living through the largest mass protest movement in U.S. history, a movement that has spread across not just the country, but all over the world. 

More people than ever recognize the injustices of our society and the violence inflicted against Black people. Protests persist to this day. Yet nothing has fundamentally changed. 

Despite the hashtags, the blacked-out profiles and the plethora of platitudes, our elected officials continue to fail us. 

They fail to address the fundamentally broken systems that have been plaguing and devasting the Black community for generations. They fail to enact any real reforms or even address these issues in any meaningful way, let alone offer real change. 

“We see you; we hear you” many elected officials and supposed white allies will say. But to that infuriating platitude I ask, How does that help us at all? 

If these people, especially Democratic leaders, truly believe Black lives matter, then they should be trying to improve Black people’s material conditions with real, substantive change. 

Instead of Democrats tweeting about how Black women are the foundation of the party, how about they give us healthcare, so the Black maternal mortality rate doesn’t continue to be three times higher than that of white women? 

I don’t want “BLM” painted in front of Trump Tower or chokeholds toothlessly banned, which didn’t save Eric Garner in NYC where they were already illegal. I want the bloated, hypermilitarized and increasingly unaccountable police departments to have their funding reallocated toward funding schools and programs that will actually help people. 

Black people don’t need Kente cloth photo ops, we need elected leaders to stop supporting and approving the construction of private prisons, an industry that fully exploits the only accepted form of slavery, the Thirteenth Amendment, to continue to profit off Black bodies held in chains. 

How about Democrats properly tax wealth and inheritance, one of the primary factors behind whites possessing 10 times more wealth than Blacks? 

It may feel like my anger is directed solely toward Democrats. I promise, it’s not; I just don’t expect anything from the fascistic and racist institution that is the Republican Party. I do, however, expect better from the Democrats, who claim to be on the side of Black people. 

But their continued inaction while they see and hear our suffering is eroding my already diminished trust in them even further. 

It’s as Malcolm X said, “The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves … But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. 

That is to say, as far as Democrats and white liberals are concerned, unless they are advocating for fundamental, material change in this country, then they need to stay the hell out of Black people’s way. 

We have been dealing with the same issues since the 1960s. There is only so much we can take when our peaceful protests are met with rubber bullets and knees on our neck, our calls for change are ignored and our peaceful options exhausted before we hit a breaking point. 

We are approaching that breaking point every day and folks are increasingly being left with less and less to lose. 

To avoid that, Black people need to stop asking for change, we need to start demanding it.

  • Show Comments (1)

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    Susan Baird

    Beautifully written, sir. I am old, and white, but it breaks my heart, that we are still in this place after all these years. I have hope, though reading columns such as yours, that your generation will get us to a better place.

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