(Todd A. Smith)
First, forgive me for this long lead.
Trust me, I will get to my point eventually.
But the death of Tyre Nichols and subsequent protests surrounding it need a proper set up.
What more can pundits say about the tragic death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of some Memphis, Tenn. police officers?
And for all that might say how can a person label what happened to Tyre Nichols as just a death and not a murder?
Well, a journalist cannot label someone a murderer until a judge and/or jury labels the alleged culprit(s) a murderer or murderers.
Therefore, a person like O.J. Simpson is not a murderer no matter what a person might think of him.
But seriously, what more can a person say about another Black man losing his life violently after what should have been a routine encounter with law enforcement?
Activists and politicians have pushed for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Police departments have implemented body cameras to hold police officers and civilians accountable when encounters go wrong.
The world began having hard discussions about systemic racism after the murder of Floyd in 2020.
Furthermore, people have donated money to organizations that are supposed to use those funds to change the system and improve the conditions in Black America.
Nevertheless, it seems nothing or little has changed over the last few tumultuous years.
That frustration and exhaustion has led many Black people to remain somewhat silent about Tyre Nichols.
Others refused to watch Tyre Nichols getting beat to death to protect their own sanity and mental health.
Actually, who in their right mind could blame them for not subjecting themselves to continuous trauma?
With that in mind, it is understandable if pundits cannot add anything of value to the conversation since America keeps having this conversation year in and year out, but to no avail.
But when a White high school classmate messaged me with his frustration that some of his peers complained that Black people were giving the officers in the Tyre Nichols case a pass because most of the cops are Black, I realized that many of his peers do not understand Black America at all.
Those peers alleged that because most of the Memphis officers were Black, protestors remained somewhat peaceful and did not resort to destroying their own community to get their message across to the mainstream.
My former classmate said he did not want to correct his peers because of the vitriol he would probably receive for viewing things differently than them.
As a result, I will respond to those who think that Black people are giving five of the officers a pass because they are “brothers.”
Mainstream media may not have covered this because it is “family business” and they are not aware of what is going on inside the culture.
Furthermore, one’s circle of social media friends might not be the proper demographic to understand the dynamic anyway.
But Black people have raked the five Black Memphis police officers over the coals because of the vicious death of Tyre Nichols.
They have gotten every form of “Uncle Tom” or “sellout” in the book.
And for some White people to understand the vitriol that the five Black officers have received from many in the Black community, they would need a bit of a history lesson.
Self-hate runs rampant in the Black community.
In all honesty, some of my friends of a lighter hue inform me all the time that self-hate is not limited to the Black race.
But it seems to me that self-hate is more detrimental to the Black community because we have more to lose because of where America’s caste system has placed us on the totem pole.
When Black leaders tried to help their people escape from slavery or rebel against slave masters, the “house Negro” often would snitch on his brothers and sisters as if selling out would garner them more love from their White master.
When the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement gained traction in the Black community, White people from government agencies like the FBI would use other Black people to infiltrate Black organizations like the Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam to help destroy the momentum of those movements.
Such infiltrations led to the assassinations of leaders like Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and former Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X.
And from a local law enforcement perspective, many Black people know a Black police officer like the Black cop in the movie “Boyz N The Hood” who treated Black people worse than White officers treated them.
Therefore, many Black people see those “house Negro/infiltrator” characteristics in those Black Memphis cops and they are letting them have it on social media.
So, the notion that these Black cops are getting the easy treatment from brothers and sisters is beyond false.
And to those criticizing the Black community for not violently protesting the death of Tyre Nichols, I must inform people that this situation did not call for that because of the quick termination and criminal charges against the former Black officers.
That often does not occur when the victim is Black, and the alleged perpetrator is White.
It often takes social media outcry and sometimes violent protests to bring about justice, unfortunately.
Most importantly, Tyre Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells called for peace.
And in the Black community, when the mothers, grandmothers and aunts of the community speak, the youngsters listen to their wisdom and obey their wishes.
Therefore, protestors made sure their voices got heard.
But they also made sure to respect the mothers of the movement who want peace and not chaos.
However, for those criticizing some in the Black community for not keeping the same energy for bad Black cops as they did for bad White cops, just know we are tired.
Some of us have no more to say because words have not really worked in the past.
If we have not kept the same energy, maybe it is because we are all out of energy and all our past words have fallen on deaf police ears.
Is that not easy to understand?