There is an embedded terror in the U.S., and it is not the boogie man or ISIS. It’s racism. Racism is often expressed through stereotypes, unsubstantiated judgments, discrimination and violence. Lately, racism has been portrayed by the very individuals sworn to protect the communities in this country, regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation or creed.
Sadly, such racism has lately to often resulted in the numerous deaths of unarmed, untried and frequently unfairly booked Black men and women. In spite of the fact that the African American culture has, throughout history, long endured all forms of racial discrimination in all walks of life, the incidents of violent police abuses have rarely been made public as in the past 12 months since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Recent months mirror a sorrowful dramatization of the tragic reality Black men and women are too often required to face in this country. During the month of July alone, five Black women ended up dead in their cells before their arraignments.
- Raynette Turner, 43, was pronounced dead on July 27 in her jail cell in Westchester County, New York. She was accused of allegedly stealing crab legs. An autopsy is currently pending.
- A day before that on July 26, Ralkina Jones, 37, from Cleveland was found dead in her cell. She was charged with assault, domestic violence, endangering a child, and criminal mischief. An autopsy reported that she died from suspicious injuries.
- On July 22, Joyce Curnell, 50, of South Carolina was found dead in her cell. She was arrested on a warrant for shoplifting. An autopsy is pending.
- Kindra Chapman, 18, from Alabama was also found dead in her cell on July 15. The cause of death was reported as asphyxia by hanging. She was charged with first degree robbery; and,
- Sandra Bland, 28, was found dead in her cell on July 13. She was charged with failing to use a turn signal. Authorities indicated that she committed suicide.
These tragic abuses only add to an unfortunate growing list of unarmed Black men, women and boys who have been killed at the hands of police officers:
- Freddie Gray,
- Walter Scott,
- Michael Brown,
- Eric Garner,
- Samuel Dubose,
- Tamir Rice, and
- Jonathan Ferrell
—most within the past 12 months.
Investigations continue to seek a rationale for why, when interacting with police, Black folks do not survive. Do these deaths signify the white hooded, cross-burning, racist philosophical figures of the past have today indeed evolved a different cloak of disguise that is too often effectively hidden by the blue uniforms worn by those we pay to protect us? We fear in too many instances, the truth may possibly lie in the saying “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”