Imagine serving your country proudly, putting your life on the line for your fellow countrymen.
Imagine wearing the uniform of a decorated soldier one night in your own automobile.
Then imagine being confronted by police officers with guns drawn, pulled out of your own automobile and pepper sprayed in the process.
But most importantly, imagine that you committed no crime, therefore giving these officers nothing to justify their treatment of you.
Allegedly, you had tinted windows and you were driving without a license plate, even though you had the temporary license plate for a new vehicle taped to the window of your vehicle.
After that, imagine that it takes until April for one of those officers to get terminated even though the event that could have resulted in you losing your life happened the previous December.
If you are Army Lieutenant Caron Nazorio, an Africa-American and Latino man, you do not have to imagine anything because that harrowing ordeal happened to you in December 2020.
And it took the video going viral, sparking outrage across racial lines, for one police officer to lose his job for not only treating a soldier in such an inhumane way, but also talking to him like he was a common criminal, and not a national hero.
Nazorio asked the officers, “What’s going on?”
To which former Windsor (Va.) Police Department Officer Joe Gutierrez replied, “What’s going on is you’re fixing to ride the lightening, son.”
First and foremost, once the officers approached Nazorio’s car and realized he was a decorated soldier and posed no threat to them, their weapons and hostility should have gotten tucked away.
To threaten a soldier for no reason shows why so many in the African-American community have little respect for police officers, no matter how many good cops actually exist.
Furthermore, to call a grown man “son” shows a level of condescension that is the very reason many in the African-American community have little respect for some officers.
Instead of approaching an African-American man with respect, the officer was already looking down on him without knowing him from Adam, and despite wearing the uniform of a United States soldier.
Although it is always good in journalism to have your own original thoughts and opinions when it comes to op-Ed’s, sometimes other people have a way of expressing your thoughts better than you do.
This week, a meme began to surface on social media.
The top half of the meme contains a picture of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism in America.
On the bottom half of the meme, a picture appears of Nazorio getting pepper sprayed and pulled out of his own automobile by police officers while wearing his military uniform.
The meme basically says if you think Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem disrespected our soldiers and you don’t think the image of Nazorio getting assaulted by cops for no reason while in uniform does not disrespect our soldiers, then you are a part of the problem.
Those two jarring images show what African-Americans have known for decades, and even centuries, and what we have attempted to tell our White counterparts for just as long.
As an African-American, you can serve your country, love your country and even die for your country, but your own country often does not care at all about African-Americans, despite their service and dedication.
What happened to Nazorio is no different than what happened to African-American soldiers returning home from World War I, World War II or countless other armed conflicts.
The same countrymen that want you to respect your nation, die for your country and revere your country, does not give a darn about you once the conflict is over.
After African-American soldiers returned from the World Wars, many got lynched for having the audacity to walk American streets in the uniform of a soldier.
Once many of those African-American soldiers returned home from war, they often could not get a job, get a meal or get a cup of coffee because of Jim Crow segregation laws.
Now in the 21st century, even though an African-American man has dedicated his life to his country, he still can fall victim to police brutality and police abuse.
Let’s be frank, many Americans do not actually give a darn about this country or their military.
They just care even less for African-American people.
Therefore, in order to avoid saying that they hate niggers, they will often say that they love their country and their soldiers.
But what if that soldier is a nigger?
What if that soldier is (insert your racial slur of choice for our Latinox brothers and sisters)?
Then some of those same people, who love their country and their military so much, will turn their guns against American heroes and make up some lame excuse to justify their ignorance and hatred.
Often, when people of color get gunned down by overzealous officers, many people make excuses for the killing like failing to comply or committing a crime.
But what African-American people have said for centuries is that no matter what we do, racism will always rear its ugly head.
African-Americans can be intelligent.
African-Americans can dedicate their lives to service.
African-Americans can dedicate their lives to their country.
African-Americans can have a spotless record.
But when a bad cop pulls an African-American over for an alleged traffic violation, many often only see a nigger.