A couple of weeks ago, terrorists killed more than 100 people in Paris. This, of course, led to a worldwide discussion bout terrorism and safety across the globe. Isis once again became the top discussion on everyone’s minds. Donald Trump wants to become the next Hitler in order to keep refugees and Muslims out of the country. Whole cities have been shut down to curb terrorist threats. Terrorism. Isis. Terrorism. Isis. Every article I read now, tells me my chances of getting killed by a member of a terrorist group whose headquarters are 3,000 miles away.
I’m not scared of ISIS.
I’ve seen two videos of ISIS beheading Western citizens. I’ve seen – man, I don’t even know how many…30? 40? – videos of police killing unarmed people of color. I’ve watched bullets enter Black bodies. I’ve seen Black bodies fall lifeless to the ground. I’ve seen police look at the bodies with little regard for if they’re alive or not. I know what terrorism looks like, and I see the faces of terror every single day.
My nephew lives with me and he just started a job that requires him to work nights and catch a bus home. It also would mean he’d have to walk a few blocks to our house in the dark. I immediately vetoed the idea: “no, I’m picking you up at the bus stop.” And without thinking, I gave the first, most prescient justification that came to mind – without a hint of irony: “There are cops out there.” No muggers. Or gang members or coyotes. The police. Because I see terrorism and terrorism looks like men and women with badges murdering innocent people based on the color of their skin.
But the police aren’t the only terrorists, by a mile. America has had domestic terrorism that’s aimed at people of color ever since we got here. What else do you call church bombings and eradication of entire Black communities? In Paris, terrorists connected to ISIS went to a cafe and opened fire. Two men also opened fire at a concert. These acts of terror gripped the entire world.
Two nights ago, terrorists opened fire on a crowd here in America. They fired at the crowd because the gathering of people represented ideals that were threatening to the shooters. Five people were shot. You didn’t hear the story? That’s because the shooting took place when White supremacists opened fire on a crowd of #BlackLivesMatter protesters.
That’s what terrorism looks like to me. But it’s easier for us to pretend like terrorism is thousands of miles away. Where we can fear them like we fear global warming or the rapture; possible doom that we can choose to ignore if we don’t want to face it. But I don’t have that luxury when I think about the terrorism of racism in America. Every time I pass a police car, I’m faced with the possibility that my life could end. Black people are living in the face of real-life terror. We don’t have to read reports to know what terror looks like. We see it firsthand every day.
Ever since the attacks on Paris, governors, mayors and crappy presidential candidates have been calling for some sort of methods to screen refugees and muslims to keep the country “safe.” When in actuality refugees aren’t committing or even plotting acts of terror in America. But the entire country is focused on vetting these individuals. I wonder, though, how much safer would this country be if even half the effort to track refugees was spent vetting members of law enforcement and people in power to make sure that they believe that Black Lives Matter? Maybe then, I’d feel safe from terrorism in America.