Acquittal In Philando Castile’s Murder Slaps Black Men In The Face Again

We organize, march and protest. We talk, debate and fight. 

Fight for what’s right. Fight for basic rights and the right to live.

Yet when it comes to justice for Black men shot and killed by law enforcement, we always seem to stand defeated after another shocking, yet almost expected, verdict. Yesterday, it happened again as Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death (murder) of Philando Castile, another fatal shooting of another unarmed Black man which was captured through a Facebook Live stream by his girlfriend who was in the driver’s seat in the car they were pulled over in.

Yet even video evidence is not enough to give the dead some form of peace. Now his daughter, who was in the car when he was shot, has to grow up without a father, knowing that she was there at the time of his death and that despite being innocent and loved by all at his job, he added to the negative statistic line plaguing Black life. 

The Shadow League on Twitter

Watch #PhilandoCastiile’s mother respond to the not-guilty verdict. Extremely powerful stuff. https://t.co/oO5tjT7Au8

The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all, Valerie Castile said, her anger building. My son loved this city and this city killed my son. And the murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?

We already know the story, as, unfortunately, we have witnessed it too many times before. But once again we are forced to cycle through the range of emotions that people of color, especially men of color, are forced to endure and suffer through each time. The anger. The humiliation. The venom. The sadness.

As Fathers of color we have to once again tell our sons how to interact with the police. We have to remind them to keep their hands out of their pockets, carry id, not to make any sudden moves and keep their mouth in check. In defeat we are burdened once again with the job of doing something. The onus is placed upon us to practice the historically repeated mantras of remaining calm and keep up the good fight. Hug your children. Teach them. 

We repeat the cycle each and every time and yet, in the end, we are forced to do it again, having to explain to our children why it happened again and how they must remain vigilant and smart despite the constant odds they face. Having to remind them of the names of those we lost over nothing but fear and ignorance. Alton Sterling. Terence Crutcher. Trayvon Martin. For us ’70s babies in New York it was Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo. 

And, unfortunately, the list continues on.

It’s “more of the same” according to Jason Sole, president of the Minneapolis NAACP.

How are you going to kill this guy and still say we have a fair system? How? Man, this behavior has gotta stop, and they cant stop so they are going to continue to kill us, Sole said outside the courthouse. We havent progressed. If you can kill me, with a baby in the back seat of a car, and get away with it, not guilty of any wrong doing? I cant honor that system, and I wont.

And not progressing is spot on. Many forget that life existed before smartphones and social media. That many of us grew up watching systemic racism affect us directly or indirectly and it was even harder to prove during those times. Yet despite advances in technology, concrete evidence is still not enough to secure justice for those affected. 

Podcast Papi on Twitter

We were “all republicans” yesterday but we ain’t all Black people today?!? Fuck you very much. #PhilandoCastiile

We have printed more than enough names on t-shirts. We have lit enough candles in front of cardboard scraps scripted with words to the dead. We have memorialized enough faces on brick walls in our neighborhoods. We have seen too many involuntarily become martyrs when they deserved to live. We have bestowed enough lessons on our children that there aren’t any new ones to teach. But despite it all, we sit here on Father’s Day Weekend devastated over another pathetic verdict, looking for some explanation that will never be placating. 

Yet we must go on. For the sake of those we are responsible for, those we represent, those we protect, teach, raise and care for, we have to carry on. Despite a system that is obviously broken, we are forced to carry on and fight despite the odds.

And for those who question why Colin Kaepernick took a knee, look Valerie Castile in the face and then try again.