Will today be the day I’m brutally slaughtered by the police?
I’d be lying if I told you such disgusting thoughts enveloped my mind a few months ago. Rampant police brutality has been an issue since the inception of organized law enforcement in this country. Yet the thought of me being the victim of such a monstrous act at the hands of our nation’s protectors always eluded me.
I am indeed a Black male. But I was born and raised in Mt. Airy. I’m educated. I’ve always had a cohort of white friends. I engage in creative endeavors and am the epitome of politeness. Of course I’m not on police officers’ radar, I thought. I’m not a criminal…
Unfortunately, the visceral images and painful personal accounts that have flooded the media lately exposed my flawed and toxic way of thinking. I am now fully aware that I always have to consider what I look like and the potential consequence of every step I take. I must remember a white man’s artistic endeavor is a Black man’s death wish, and Black innocence is intrinsically linked with reasonable suspicion.
Regardless of the company that I keep or the way present I myself, in our country I will always be a suspect. I and anyone who looks like me is Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin etc. We are all on the chopping block, awaiting our unjust and cruel demise, strategically coordinated by our oppressors.
Maybe when I’m putting gas into my car tomorrow or taking a hike in the Wissahickon one of my generous white compatriots will spare the world from having to see my Black face again. Perhaps the government should start an initiative to physically replace every Black person with an iPhone; at least then, our people would be worth something in this country. That would of course be too easy, because history has proven our country is incapable of functioning without completely diminishing Black progression and our sense of security.
The archaic ideals on which our country was built upon, fused with ever progressive methods of discrimination, create a lethal cocktail. They intoxicate the public, challenging the concept of compassion. I was asleep, but now I’ve awaken, and this country is rancid.
We must mutilate this country’s inherently discriminatory structures from within, in order to build a nation worth fighting for. Anyone who thinks the current ”social unrest” is merely a vehicle for defunding the police has lost the plot and clearly hasn’t awaken from their own slumber.
This is the fight of my generation, the fight of my life. Anyone who hails minor changes in our country’s institutional and societal practices as the realistic method of change has made their intentions clear.
A systemic overhaul and a total shift in the collective psyche of the American people is the only way we can instill any semblance of American civility. It’s pointless to replace the beams of a structure that is inherently rotten.
So the next time you lash out at a staff member for not having your organic strawberries, maybe you should consider channeling your frustrations toward advocating for a cause — one that may contribute to systemic change in your community, and potentially save a life.
Devon Watts is a member of the deli staff at Weavers Way Mt. Airy.