For days now, I have avoided talking about the Eric Garner decision—even among my closest friends. I have kept silent because when I think of the video, I simply get enraged. It is an anger that surprises me because of its intensity—and troubles me because underneath it all I feel powerless.
It seems as if every day we hear a new story of another black life unjustly ended. But it is irresponsible to make generalizations and allow emotions to overtake us. We must examine each incident on its own merit. So, I sincerely try my best to maintain objectivity.
But the Eric Garner video speaks for itself. The medical examiner’s office declared his death a homicide. And now we are witnessing the murder of justice...and from where I sit, it seems as if hope for real change is clinging to life support.
I have heard the arguments regarding black-on-black crime juxtaposed with accusations that our community only cares about dying teens when they are the victims of someone from another race. That conversation is irrelevant to this particular discussion. This story is not about a civilian killing a civilian. It is about a police officer—someone who has taken an oath to preserve and protect justice for all—abusing his power compounded by our system failing to do the right thing when an individual did not make the right call.
I respect and admire the women and men who stand up every day for my freedoms. I do not have the character or courage to put my life on the line in such a way. There are life and death split-second decisions that these officers must make each day. But this wasn’t that. The officer had room, space, time and opportunity to serve justice. Somewhere in between Eric Garner saying “I can’t breathe” 11 times there was a moment for a different choice.
The media continues to provide distractions from the real issues at hand. Whether the Mr. Garner and others are criminals or law-abiding citizens, the ideals that our justice system upholds is supposed to guarantee them the presumption of innocence. We cannot allow individuals to determine the worth of another human’s life based on their sliding scale of justice.
I am stunned, but not surprised at some of the hateful sentiments that emerge as we discuss issues of race in America. It is clear to me that as a nation we still continue to falsely believe that there are black problems and white problems. Police officers who carry out the law filtered through the lens of their own bias and prejudices are a problem that should concern every American.
Years ago, when the movie “Joy Luck Club” was in theaters, I asked a Jewish coworker if she’d had a chance to see it. She shrugged her shoulders and replied that she couldn’t relate because she wasn’t Chinese. As she walked away, I shook my head because she’d clearly missed it! The movie was not about being Chinese—it was about being human.
It is clear that things must change. We cannot move forward in some areas, while moving back or standing still in others. The division will eventually tear us apart. As a coach, my job is to help others transform their thinking and behaviors. The time of my silence on this issue is over and I must do my part.
Named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Coach Felicia is a Certified Empowerment Coach™ who empowers her clients to "Turn their Worth into Wealth" as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO the WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 on her website.