I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker today. I work at a news station– a place you expect to find the most socially aware, engaged and informed kind of people.
When the dash cam video from the Philando Castile police shooting was released I watched it. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already seen the first video, so I don’t encourage watching this one. It’s just as heartbreaking, just as painful, just as unjust.
Much like many of us thought, this other video shows that Philando did everything he could have to avoid being killed. He spoke slowly, calmly and respectfully. He warned Officer Jeronimo Yanez of each movement he was planning to make. He also told the officer that he had a firearm, as well as a legal permit to posess it. But somehow it only took 40 seconds to go from “Hello sir” to seven shots fired. SEVEN.
I immediately posted the video and web story to our station’s Facebook page. When the co-worker happened to see it, they turned to me and asked “what is this?”
I paused for a minute…really trying to piece together how anyone working in the newsroom didn’t know the dash cam video would be released today, and didn’t know what incident it was releated to.
I calmly reminded the co-worker of the initial incident and the Facebook live stream.
“Ohhhhh, now I remember!” they said.
“How could you forget?” I said in my head.
I had to take a breath…and remember that these events don’t affect everyone the way that they affect members of the black community. These events are burned into some people’s minds, and they dont pop into their thoughts when they happen to see a police officer, or get pulled over.
THIS is why we say thier names. THIS is why we share their stories. THIS is why #BlackLivesMatter. Because to even the kindest, most well-meaning, non-racist person– they dont’t really.
Is this kind of ignorance really bliss? In cases such as these, I think so. It’s so much easier to ignore, and to not feel for these people and thier families– it’s what so many people choose to do. That ignorant bliss is precisly what keeps so many people from understanding why we’re so angry, why we feel the need to use hashtags, and why we keep protesting and sharing videos and posts.
I firmly believe that we have to keep pulling people out of their ignorant bliss, and wake them up to the reality that we’re experiencing everyday in our communities. Otherwise, the anger will never be viewed as justified. The fear will never be seen as logical. The hurt will never been percieved as real.
Now, I don’t think this was some kind of defining moment for my co-worker. Honestly, they probably don’t even remember what happend, while I’m sitting here writing about it.
But, I do think this was at least one moment in time where they were forced to come face-to-face with discriminatory police brutality, and look into the face of the person sitting in front of them, and know that this matters…that black lives matter. And for at least a minute, the veil of ignorant bliss was gone.