When I visited Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, N.J. on July 19 and heard Johnson speak, six years after her son's death, it wasn't a dramatization of events it was real life. A mother poured her heart out to a congregation, which understood her pain.
Justice cannot breathe when Black men and boys and women and girls are routinely profiled, abused, arrested, and killed with impunity by police officers. We must stop this. We must protect the lives of our young people -- all of them.
The protests for "Ferguson" and Staten Island have not been about single incidents of one black man getting killed by one (white) police officer. They are about institutional racism in the United States, and about excessive use of police force that ends only in its most visible and extreme form.
America is a deeply divided nation. While the outcry against events in places like Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island, Baltimore, and now McKinney, is loud and clear and a patchwork quilt of protest is growing (Black Lives Matter), a great many white people refuse to attribute any of it to racism.
We tell our children that everyone makes mistakes, but that isn't true. The truth is, if you're an affluent caucasian in America, you are afforded the ability to claim confusion or a temporary lapse in judgment.
If we all are supposed to feel safer -- if crime rates are lower and people of all colors are supposed to be equal -- how can the force that's supposed to protect Americans be damaging such a large segment of our population?
My cop friends tell me that in addition to institutional biases that can't be minimized, training is often antiquated and premised on the days of being "tough on crime," once the only approach to policing. Assuming my officer friends are correct, we can expect more incidents like Charlena Cooks', and that things will get worse before they get better.
After "not guilty" was read as the verdict for Officer Michael Brelo for his part in the shooting death of Black couple Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams took to Twitter to speak on the verdict.
Mosby's courageous decision to prosecute makes her just one of the many black women over the decades who have worked hard to quell the scourge of police brutality. Black women have played a substantial role in bringing national and international attention to the issue, both in the past and today.
Under my proposal, the district attorneys are given the benefit of the doubt and are not superseded until a reason exists that suggests bias or wrongdoing. However, I would also reform the grand jury system to increase transparency by mandating that in such cases, there is public disclosure of the district attorneys instructions to the grand jury as to which charges they should consider.
"Held captive." It was how one 13-year-old described the feeling of growing up poor in our wealthy nation, and for more and more Americans living in poverty, this feeling isn't just a metaphor.
If I could remake America, I wouldn't add a thing. She's got it all. Instead, I'd take away some things.
In the Hunger Games bestselling novels and movies, the rich capital uses terroristic "games" to control the 12 poor surrounding districts. No young fan of the books or movies would miss the uncanny parallels between the treatment of Balitmore's poor and the brutal jovial wanton violence against Panem's poor.
Is there even any value in my pain, frustration or trying to use my voice? Is there any point in trying to engage my fellow American in dialogue that can bring about awareness? Should I even waste my breath trying to explain to you why Black people are sick and tired of being sick and tired?
Some African Americans have argued with me that comparing the riots to the Arab Spring gives too much credence to the miscreant behavior of some black youths. But that's the problem. Inured to black suffering, we all have a double standard for African Americans.
The events in Baltimore should be a wakeup call for communities to examine the state of their civic health. And this should not be limited to those working within the political realm.