We at The Wish Dish try to be as apolitical as possible. But, when certain issues befall this nation we are compelled to comment.
Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Lequan McDonald, Walter Scott, and now Alton Sterling.
He was outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge selling CDs. Officers responded to a complaint involving someone who fit Sterling’s description. Officers approached him and the altercation began. After a few seconds of heated words (from what the first video shows) Sterling is wrestled to the ground.
Not ten seconds later, Alton Sterling is shot several times in the chest at point blank range. He died soon after. Initial reports, stated that he was holding a gun during the whole incident. We now know that he wasn’t from what we see of the second video.
As protests erupt around the country, as media around the world points to all different angles to examine this issue, as people take to social media to express their outrage or their tempered bias for the police, as political pundits manipulate this issue into political rhetoric; I want you all to watch this and watch the whole thing.
Regardless of whether you think this was a murder or not, we should take Sterling’s family’s words to heart. We should all look deep into the eyes of his crying son and let it shake us. Alton Sterling was a human being and that’s the fact everyone seems to forget.
We should not only critically look at these two officers of the law for taking someone’s life with such apparent quickness and carelessness. No, we should also look at ourselves in how quickly we separate the recently departed from their humanity.
If you don’t believe me, the next time this happens (and it will), look at how people on every news channel, social media platform, text message, article comment, is so quick to jump from the fact that a fellow human being is dead. You’ll hear this chilling phrase every time: We don’t know all the facts to form an opinion yet.
Or people will say that ‘this is the problem with police’ or ‘now what type of record did he have for officers to act that way?’ or even ‘now, see, this is the problem with those people.’
Excuse me? But the FACT still remains that a PERSON is DEAD. How dare we disrespect someone’s memory and their surviving family this way.
I ask, as a country, have we grown so numb as to look at this tragic loss of life with such a cold, calculating perspective? That we must put forth all these justifications and sweeping generalizations to compensate for our apathetic viewpoint? Well, he had a record, the officers were doing their job, you can’t think at a time like that… Do we refuse to acknowledge the one thing that connects us with Alton Sterling, his humanity?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to piece the situation together to invoke reform or debate. What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be where our thought processes automatically go. We become less human when we take away the humanity of another person after they have left this earth. We become nothing more than collections of water, meat, and labels.
Our society needs to treat US/WE/THEM/ALL with more precious respect and reverence. And not just the lives of our friends and family, but those we don’t know because, like Alton Sterling, we are all sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.
I hope for a day when our national frame of reference shifts. Until then, I shake my head at what we’ve become.