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Being Different Like Elijah McClain Does Not Protect From Being Seen as Threat

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

In Black America, Meekness Does Not Matter


If George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks’ deaths did not convince opponents of Black Lives Matter that police brutality poses a serious threat to innocent African-Americans, then Elijah McClain’s death definitely should.


Some people still point to the mistakes made by Floyd and Brooks to justify their deaths because that is par for the course for racists when police unnecessarily kill an African-American.


All an officer or civilian has to say is that they feared for their life and an African-American dies in vain because we are supposedly so threatening.


Elijah McClain did not fit any of the stereotypes of a threatening African-American man.


The man played the violin for animals at a shelter for crying out loud.


The late Elijah McClain would say, “I am different.”


Elijah McClain told the police officers in Aurora, Colo. that, “I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries.”


A resident in Aurora, Colo. called 911 on Elijah McClain because he had on a ski mask in 66 degree Fahrenheit weather.


Elijah McClain sometimes wore a ski mask to keep warm because he was anemic.


The caller said that he did not see Elijah McClain commit any crime.


Nevertheless, responding officers still killed him despite the fact that he had not committed a crime.


The officer simply told Elijah McClain that he looked suspicious.


CNN.com reported, “Three White officers stopped McClain after he left a convenience store in August in response to a 911 call about a ‘suspicious person,’ according to an overview of the incident provided by police.


“McClain resisted officer contact, the report said, and a struggle ensued. At one point, an officer placed McClain in a chokehold and he briefly lost consciousness. Officers released the hold, the report said, and McClain began struggling again.


“When paramedics arrived at the scene they administered ketamine to sedate McClain, the report said. According to a letter from the district attorney, he suffered a heart attack while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and was declared brain dead three days later.”


The fact that he got killed because he was an African-American man wearing a ski mask, after a trip to a local convenient store, hurts even more because wearing masks have become commonplace because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Although Elijah McClain realized that he was different, and really did not fit the negative stereotypes for African-American men, he could not escape the fact that he was an African-American man.


And being an African-American male, children included, makes a person suspicious even if they play the violin in Aurora, Colo. or bird watch in New York’s Central Park.


Elijah McClain pleaded to the officers saying, “I don’t even kill flies.”


The arresting cops did not heed his pleas for help or listen to his explanation of his character.


They killed him anyway like they have killed countless other African-Americans throughout history.


Despite his innocence and meekness, he still has become a hash tag and just another African-American man taken from us too soon by overzealous police officers choosing to ignore his cries for help.


The peculiar thing about the suspicious description is that it seems to apply more to African-Americans than our White counterparts, regardless of character.


Aurora, Colo. is the same town that endured a tragic mass shooting at a movie theater.


Although the White killer, James Holmes, murdered numerous innocent moviegoers, members of the Aurora, Colo. still arrested the murderer peacefully.


In America, law-abiding African-Americans get the label of suspicious and often die as a result of that label.


Meanwhile, White criminals must not be suspicious even if caught in the act of a crime because many live to tell about their crime without insult or injury.


Holmes murdered 12 people and injured 70 more people on July 20, 2012.


Yet the same department that killed Elijah McClain did not kill him while apprehending him.


And people still wonder why we chant, “Black lives matter.”


Some even call the Black Lives Matter movement a farce and a hate group.


No, the only thing that supporters and members of the Black Lives Matter movement hate is the obvious double standard shown towards White people and people of color by the cops and society in general.


Someone once told me to stop labeling people Black or White because we are all Americans.


We are all Americans, and it is a shame that the law does not treat all Americans equally.


Why do innocent African-Americans get treated like criminals while White criminals get treated like their innocent and harmless?


That is why we talk about Black America vs. White America so much.


We talk about Black America because it is totally different than White America.


In Black America, your skin color makes you guilty.


In Black America, even if you are a criminal you often get a harsher punishment than your White counterparts even if your record is the same and the crime is the same.


In Black America, you can have great credit.


However, your credit score often gets penalized so that you cannot get loans to live in certain neighborhoods.


In Black America, you often get paid less than your White counterparts even if you have the same credentials and do the same job.


In Black America, you can be overly qualified for a job.


Nevertheless, the job might go to one of your White competitors because you might not fit into the company’s culture, which means White employees would not feel comfortable working with an African-American.


In Black America, you are suspicious based on what you wear.


Therefore, an encounter with the police might end in your death no matter how spotless your reputation is.


We see the same episode play out day after day in Black America.


It is just a shame that we still have to convince people that our lives matter just as much as theirs.


This article was published on Friday 03 July, 2020.
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