It’s 2:37 a.m. Monday, June 19. Just hours ago, my children surprised me with a Father’s Day crab boil. Kids. Crab. Conversation. It was cool.
Currently, I’m lying in bed on my back staring at the ceiling. The house is quiet. There’s a drip coming from the shower head here in the master bedroom, but that’s not the only water running this evening.
My eyes are watery. I’m emotional. Today was set to be a Father’s Day for the ages, yet the tone was mired in conversations involving Philando Castile, law enforcement, the cradle-to-prison pipeline and Black Lives Matter.
I wanted to play Just Dance 2017 on the XBox One. I want to swim a few laps with my daughter in the pool. Instead, my home turned into a miniaturized version of “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” And it’s not fair.
I’m time-stamping my writing of this article so that you may get the full gist of my pain in real time. My columns usually follow a template I’ve constructed that contains flowery language, metaphors and the occasional humor that tends to effectively get my point across.
But not today. I’m too emotional to follow protocol.
I’m willing to bet that your Father’s Day was filled with laughter and family fun. A multi-generational walk through memory lane with kids playing all around you. Reminiscing about the good ol’ days while sifting through family photo albums.
Not mine. My 2017 version was mired in a tonal angst that forced me in a position where questions needed to be answered.
You don’t understand what it’s like to be African-American. My children wanted clarity. Philando Castile was dead. Law enforcement (once again) shot and killed a black man and no one paid the price for it.
And the Morrison children wanted Daddy to explain why this continues to happen.
The Castile case was supposed to be different. He followed the rules. He was licensed to carry a gun. He was fully compliant. Yet once again, those same “five magic words” rose to the surface and successfully absolved the officer in question of any wrongdoing:
“I feared for my life.”
I want anyone reading this to tell me what I’m supposed to tell my son. The go-to response from citizens who feel police officers are infallible is always, “Follow the officer’s orders and you’ll find that all of your problems will disappear.”
Castile did. And he’s dead.
I want you to help me explain to my son how law enforcement is supposedly here to “protect and serve,” yet he constantly sees the imagery of black men being shot and killed by fellow black civilians and rightfully convicted. Yet police officers do the same and never are.
Help me explain to my son how I’ve never seen a police department call a press conference after the shooting of a black citizen and officially proclaim, “We got this one wrong.” Ever. Yes, we live in a litigious society, but settlement checks will be written to the family of the deceased regardless.
Help me explain to my son how there are actually people in this country who feel young African-American and Latino males are genetically predisposed to be prone to violence.
And help me explain to my son how there is a distinct possibility that he could be murdered because a police officer can simply get it wrong. There’s a chance he could lose his life on a technicality solely because an officer “feared for his life.”
So while you were grilling the finest in meats at your backyard Father’s Day barbecue, I was being grilled by my children on the perils of growing up black in America. With tears included.
Damn your “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Your human physiological explanations and legal jurisprudence can kiss my narrow black behind.
Your silence tells me that you’re not really concerned with injustices in our law enforcement and judicial system. If the law is what’s keeping officers from being prosecuted for unnecessarily killing African-American males, then it’s time to change the freakin’ law. Equal protection under the law also applies to black people as well. Regardless of what you believe.
Now I dare you tell me that you still don’t understand the concept of Black Lives Matter. Happy Father’s Day.