When the Dead, Unarmed Black Male is me!
The one constant in the slew of killings by police of unarmed Black males is that we never heard their side of the story. We never heard that they never heard any warning while walking thru Wal-Mart with a toy gun or carrying a toy gun in their waistband. We never heard what caused a young man to engage in a struggle with an officer in a police car or what the man was thinking while walking down a Brooklyn stairway because the elevator was taking too long.
We hear of course about the enormous size and strength of the now dead victims. That they looked like demons and despite non-athletic builds had the strength of professional wrestlers. We hear of the officer’s fear for their lives as they approached these men (or boys) armed with pill bottles or toy guns or nothing and how they had no choice but to shoot. Their fear apparently extends to the dying bodies on the ground as they offer no medical attention while they bleed out. They stand around and keep their distance, in one case calling their PBA rep before calling in the shooting.
I fall in the demographic most likely to be killed one day so I want to make my statement now while I can because in the event it’s one day me on the ground, my talking will be done. I say I’m in the demographic because not only am I a Black male, I stand 6’6” and have what I’ll refer to as an athletic build although these days I’m looking more like a football lineman than the basketball player I once was. People that know me have referred to me as “Baby Huey” or a “gentle giant” or “still Bill”. I’ve been in two fights in my life and violence will truly be the last resort. So if you hear about how I viciously attacked someone in a rage please know that it wasn’t me.
While I don’t use drugs, make drug deals in cars, engage in strong armed robbery or threaten people by waving toy guns, I do engage in a dangerous activity… I walk. My walks take me around lakes and to parks and because I live in a city, thru residential neighborhoods not my own. I go different directions to change things up and one day I might be that strange Black man that obviously doesn’t belong whose only purpose must be criminal, looking for someplace to rob.
I once had a Weimaraner, a German hound bred to run all day hunting birds and we would walk several miles a day. He was a rescue dog and something in his past made him afraid of everything. Cats eventually refused to move and made him walk around. I would walk him mostly off his leash but as someone approached from the opposite direction I would leash him so as to give that person comfort, not for fear of what the dog would do. Now it is I who has to take the extra step not to instill fear in the strangers I meet.
The media, police statements and killers portraying themselves as victims all let us know of the size and strength of the slain men inferring that alone is reason for fear and to justify of course their execution. So when they report my size and strength, please remember me as Baby Huey.
Know that I didn’t have a gun in my possession nor do I own one. As a child my parents owned a gun they were certain that I didn’t know about. It was kept in their bedroom closet out of reach, unloaded with the bullets kept separately. This didn’t keep me from finding it, loading it and taking it into the basement and attempting to fire it. Fortunately it didn’t go off which probably saved my life. Whether the bullet ricocheted and hit me or I shot up the water heater and had to explain to my parents, death was a good possibility. What I learned was to never underestimate the resourcefulness of a child or later in life just how mad I could make a woman so I’ve never wanted a gun around.
Know that I’m very respectful, almost never curse and am fairly non-confrontational physically although rhetorically I give as good as I get. I’ve heard my demeanor on the basketball court is a little different, no doubt egged on by my youngest daughter who would scream out “bow ‘em Daddy” when I took her to my church league games. My basketball games are now over so any report of my violent and physical behavior will also be untrue.
When they scour my past to portray me as a thug (and therefore justify my death), know that Phi Beta Sigma isn’t a gang and that my initiation didn’t involve bullying and hazing. The current Attorney General was attacked for her membership in Delta Sigma Theta and she should be left alone on that account as well. One of the two fights I mentioned occurred in 6th grade on the Field Elementary School playground and the other was part of a group scuffle at Lane College when some members of the basketball team didn’t like getting beat. If video’s surface of either event please know that these were anomalies and not regular behavior. I didn’t start either one if that matters.
Know that I had a good life although I would have liked for it to have been longer. I have wonderful longtime friends and a great family. I’ll paraphrase something a friend said in quite another context. Whatever story they tell to justify my demise, “if it’s not on video or they didn’t put their hand on me when I was doing it… it wasn’t me!”
Featured Photo: Star Tribune