Every year there’s a new one
A Diallou, King or me
Faces on TV
We ask so many questions
But no one’s forced to answer
With sympathy’s short half-life
Soon most are hoping for the noise to stop
And the questions to disappear once again
Just like us
In our lives
And our deaths
© Gayle Force Press 2003
Once again, Black folks in California are publicly distressed about a police shooting. This time, the victim was Oscar Grant, a 22 year old Black man who was shot and killed by a White police officer in a subway at the beginning of 2009. The officer was convicted of the shooting (involuntary manslaughter) and given a 2 year sentence. The frighteningly short sentence is the source of the protests. The officer, Johannes Mehserle, will probably be out of jail by Memorial Day 2011.
The CNN article linked above is indicative of the attention that's been/being paid to the entire situation. Grant's name does not appear until the 11th paragraph. 10 paragraphs before this dead person is even acknowledged by name.
The basic outline of the shooting is tragically familiar. White officer kills unarmed Black man. Momentary outrage. Down the memory hole. Wait a little while. Repeat.
A few years ago, I wrote about this cycle of police violence but I wasn't bold enough to follow it to the ultimate conclusion for so many young Black men, death. Instead, I wrote about the violence that wounds, heals and scars. Today, that doesn't feel like quite enough. It's not quite enough for me. It's not quite enough for Oscar Grant. But it's all I can give him now.