11/26/2014 12:46 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2015

Why Do Black Men Die With Their Hands Up?


I remember September 21, 2011 remarkably well. I remember sitting in my dorm room, frantically refreshing Twitter to see whether or not, by some miracle, justice would be served, and a man would go home to his family.

He didn't.

What was significant to me was that I was suddenly hit with the realization that in a few weeks, months or years, no one would remember any of this. No one would remember his name. He, and the treatment he received would fade into obscurity, like all those before him, and all those to come.

So I sat on my dorm room bed and promised to not forget Troy Davis.

I haven't yet, but you probably have.

The paradox of race in America MSNBC

Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Rodney King. Jordan Davis. Oscar Grant. Pearl Pearson. DeShawn Currie. Sean Bell. Kenneth Chamberlain. Ronald Madison. James Brissette. Kelly Thomas. Edgar Vargas Arzate. Eric Garner. Kajieme Powell. John Crawford. Ezell Ford. Dante Parker. Malice Green. Amadou Diallo. Abner Louima. Prince Jones. Henry Glover. Ramarley Graham. Shem Walker. Kendrec McDade.

How many names do you remember? How many have you even heard of?

How many more do you need to read before you believe that a pattern exists?

There is no point debating facts or law, reviewing case points or legal strategy (although arguments here would be plentiful). It doesn't matter. What matters is that there will come a day, far too soon, when you won't remember Michael Brown. What matters is that one demographic will likely remember this for longer than another. What matters is that, after a few articles are shared and a few tweets are sent, Michael Brown's name will not be said until he is used as an example in the next police shooting of a black man.

Instead of narrowing in on the "case of the day," we should be disturbed by the fact that none of us really expected an indictment. We should be bothered by our justice system being a place where hope cannot exist for minorities. We should be outraged by the collective selective memory of society.

Why are black men dying with their hands in the air?

Because some of you might remember Michael Brown the way I remember Troy Davis, but most of you won't. And if you won't, why would the law?