Editorial: Being Black in America

Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson speaks about racism.
Courtesy of Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson

This week was horrifying. A white woman called the police on a black man in Central Park and a white cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota murdered a handcuffed black man after kneeling on his neck for three minutes.

There were riots in Minnesota and New York City, journalists were arrested and a president that called rioters “thugs.” Earlier this month, cops body slammed people of color in the East Village and Brooklyn for not social distancing, while nothing was done to white people in the Upper East Side.

These incidents are nothing new. There was the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky a few weeks ago when police entered her home on a no knock warrant and shot her eight times as she slept. The search also found nothing. There is also the cold-blooded racist murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by two white men.

All of these incidents should terrify anyone.

Police are supposed to protect people, not kill them. Did George Floyd deserve to die over a forged check? I think not. On Friday, one cop was arrested and three more to go. Hopefully, justice will follow.

If I was black I would be scared of the cops.

Well Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson spoke with the Bronx Times and she has seen enough.

“This is happening all across America,” she exclaimed.

Gibson is emotionally drained. These deaths this week and over the past month have been excruciating for her to read about. She said that it is really not safe to be a black person in this country.

“No matter what position you have in our community, you are always reminded everyday that you are a woman of color,” she commented. “This has been one hell of a week.”

Whether it is Breonna Taylor, Mike Brown or George Floyd, things must change, she said.

Police need to treat people of color like they would white people. Where was the outrage when white people protested against the lockdown in Michigan?

The councilwoman stressed most cops are good, but it’s the bad ones who ruin it. There needs to be police reform and people should want to be cops for the right reasons.

More importantly, black people should not be afraid of cops.

“Those are my brothers and sisters being killed by policemen,” she said.

According to Gibson, some people are just racist and that’s how they were raised. But cops need to treat people better. They should not assume because a person is black or brown they did something wrong

“It is frustrating. We know that at any time it could be us,” she said. “All of these things are happening in white America.”

She fully supports the NYPD, but wonders what it will take for police to change how they treat people of color. How many more people have to die? Imagine if there were no smartphones — many of these incidents would go unreported.

The councilwoman feels if cops set a better example then maybe more children of color would want to join law enforcement.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Gibson said.

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