Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by Tulsa police while unarmed and looking for help after his car stalled. In response to this shooting, Essence Magazine published an article asking, “Why Did Tulsa Police Fatally Shoot Terrence Crutcher?”. The nation has long been posing, answering and grappling with the question for some years now, most recently, since three Black women launched the Black Lives Matter Movement to address police brutality after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman.
We all know the answer to this redundant question. Why was Terence Crutcher and a long list of unarmed Black men, women and children gunned down by police? Because of racism and inequality.
Colin Kaepernick sparked a nationwide protest when he took a knee during the national anthem to protest this precise mistreatment of Black people by the justice system. Since then, high school and college students/athletes and even those on national leagues have followed suit. It seems that not a single day will pass where another report is not issued where Americans are refusing to salute the flag in solidarity with the protest. However, there is something that posing questions and taking a knee simply will not accomplish. We need activists like Kaepernick, who have a huge, influential public platform, to take a stand for a bold solution to put an end to police brutality.
We now know that the solution is not merely a matter of police wearing body cameras. Video footage was presented in the cases of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot within seconds of the arrival of police, Eric Garner, who was choked by police and died on the spot in footage captured by a citizen journalist, and multiple other cases and still no one was held accountable for these deaths. And somehow, in other cases, body cams are magically turned off or the videos are not released to the public for legal reasons. So, no, the body cam solution is not a cure all. Matter-of-fact, there is no reason for Black people to believe it will have an impact at all on reducing instances of police brutality. Neither inequality or racism will go away by simply video-recording it and we now know that. However, at least it could be argued that the impractical solution was actually proposed and implemented.
After all, this longer a matter of protesting the problem, but advocating for a solution.
There is a disconnect between the academic sphere and the sphere of mainstream activism that has placed faces like Colin Kaepernick at its forefront. In truth, we do not need anymore celebrities to bring awareness to the issue of police brutality. Black Lives Matter has done quite a fine job at launching that discussion into everyday public discourse. What the Black community does need is bold activists with large platforms like Colin Kaepernick, to actually take a stand for a solution. Solutions being outlined and proposed right now in the academic world.
Back in 2014, The Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates published a very popular piece titled “The Case for Reparations,” wherein he lamented the reality that racial disparity will not end until we put an end to the economic inequality, which fuels it. Economists Sandy Darity and Darrick Hamilton have proposed that reparations, in the form of Baby Bonds, explained in this paper, “Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Wealth Gap in Putative, Post Racial America?:
“We envision a “baby bond” plan of much greater scale and magnitude—progressively rising to $50,000 or $60,000 for children in families in the lowest wealth quartile and accessible once the child turns 18 years of age. These individual trusts could grow in federally managed investment accounts with guarantees of at least 1.5–2% annual growth rates. We also would determine eligibility for such a program based upon the net worth position of the child’s family rather than their income, e.g. all children whose families fell below the national median for wealth would receive “baby bonds.”
It is estimated that America would have to potentially pay out 14 trillion dollars, if reparations were to be sought and successfully awarded to descendants of slaves. 14 trillion dollars will mean the difference between access to education, clean water, health care, stable housing and SAFE policing for every single Black person in the United States of America. Currently, the Caribbean has united in the fight for reparations, after CARICOM launched a Reparations Commission back in 2013 to demand restitution from European countries that benefitted from slavery. That means the time is now to collectively and rightfully demand recompense for the historical wrongs that are presently having a ripple effect on society.
It is now time to stop taking a knee, stop asking “why?” inequality and racism has prevailed over human decency and start taking a bold stand for reparations.