"Step out of the car nice and slow" "Don't make any sudden moves" "Put your hands in the air" "Resist and you will loose"
This #BlackLivesMatter movement was not the result of a mandate by Congress or laws set forth by State governments. It is merely a fierce grassroots movement that has created enormous awareness to a series of incidents that have involved police shootings and unarmed black males.
The rapid explosion of cell phones, YouTube and Twitter has increased public awareness of police misconduct toward black citizens. As a result, white attitudes are changing and protests led by black activists are accelerating. This may be a moment in our history when real reform is possible.
In this generation, simply sending out a tweet with a trending hashtag is lazy, disingenuous and ill-conceived in generating momentum for a movement. A well-timed status update largely does nothing other than trick the person into believing he/she has done their part in the struggle.
From the moment those lights start flashing and that siren goes off, we're all in the same boat: we must pull over. However, it's what happens after you've been pulled over that's critical.
The job we ask police to do today annihilates the principle of the Fourth Amendment. Regardless of statutes and Supreme Court rulings, police surveilling all of society all of the time is as unreasonable a search as there ever was. Only decades of becoming accustomed to the idea allows us to see it any other way.
As the Charleston community comes together in mourning, it is important to also come together to reflect on how such a tragedy could happen in the first place, and what must be done at a larger, societal level to prevent this from happening again.
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.
Why is this still an issue? Why are we still arguing and attempting to legislate something that has already been proven unconstitutional? Why was the man who filmed the arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore arrested, with no probable cause, along with countless others over the years?
Police must change their perspective from enforcing to protecting. They must know and respect the communities they serve. They must not be above the law. Change will occur only if we push for it together. Let's be about it.
"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.
How do we eliminate the bias against black skin which seems to be so inextricably linked to issues of discrimination that have a real impact on the progress of African-Americans? Economic investment, legal reform and improvements in education are certainly needed. But, I also believe that positive multicultural media is part of the solution.
I love the black men in my life. They are my brothers, my nephews, my cousins, my best friends. When they hurt, I hurt. We hurt. And once again, we find ourselves deeply hurting from a socially-constructed wound of perpetual, centuries-long injustices.