Elijah McClain was a 23 year old massage therapist. Everything I have read about him screams gentle. On his lunch break he would play the violin for the kittens in the pet shop next door. He ran in barefoot running shoes because he felt it was more natural. Many of the runners I’ve spoken with in the past have voiced similar things. He was anemic and could be found even in the summer time wear layers of clothes and a runners mask due to being cold. That I can also find true because I have a son that’s anemic. He taught himself how to play the guitar and violin. HE TAUGHT HIMSELF! So what could he have done that would’ve been so wrong to cause him death?
Summary of what I’ve read about his death…
Police received a call about a person acting suspicious flailing their arms and wearing a ski mask. The caller also reported that he didn’t appear to be a threat and did seem to have a weapon. So basically an unnecessary welfare check? How did that in turn lead to his death?
When officers arrived, orders to stop were not responded to. Why was that? Because he was wearing headphones! He couldn’t possibly comply if he did not hear the orders. Once he did notice and proceeded to turn down his music to hear, it was too late. The feeling of “disrespect” had already been planted. Now a need for authority had to be shown.
For 15 MINUTES the officers had him in a hold that applied pressure to his carotid artery. For 15 MINUTES he begged, pleaded, and even complimented the officers. All to no avail. They still applied pressure to the point he began to vomit. Then EMT’s gave him a shot of ketamine (sedative) because he was determined to be “agitated”. Who wouldn’t be? Then to make matters worse, the dose he was given was for a 220 LB. man. Elijah weighed 140 lbs. This lead to him going into cardiac arrest not once, but twice before later being declared brain dead.
I am sadden, I am heartbroken, and I have shed tears for this young man that did not deserve what has happened to him. I’ve seen pictures and watched the video where he was filled with happiness while indeed wearing layers of clothing as friends and family described. I also can’t help but to wonder again, how many others we still have not heard about. Especially when Elijahs life was taken almost a year ago and we are just now hearing about it. WE NEED JUSTICE FOR ELIJAH NOW!
As I watch the news recently about Sean Reed and hearing the detective joke about his funeral being a closed casket my heart hurts. While this young man was laying lifeless in the street without being covered up, that was something to laugh about? I still cannot figure out what he did that was so wrong that caused him to lose his life. Many will say, he shouldn’t have ran or he posed a threat. Eye witnesses say that he only had his phone and his shirt while running away. That seems accurate since he was filming on Facebook live the whole time.
Now I know many people at this point are saying they are tired of hearing about this kind of stuff, there is no such thing as racism, talking about it makes it worse, and there is no difference people just need to work harder for what they want. In the eyes of myself and many people of color that is bull. This is something we live with everyday whether we want to or not. There is no option. We must talk about it or else no one would know about it. Just look at Ahmaud Arbery. It took two months for the world to know what happened to him to get the ball rolling. How many others do we not know about?
As for him not running away, well the truth of the matter is he could’ve had the same outcome if he had stood there and complied. It’s been seen time and time again. Philando Castile informed the officer that he legally had a weapon before attempting to get his license like the officer wanted before being shot. What I find even more shocking about the Sean Reed incident is that the same day is that two men of the opposite color did the same thing minus being on Facebook live and these two men were armed plus wearing body armor. Those two men were also arrested without injury. They live to see another day. So my question in this case is, “What made them less of a threat?”
During a time where my boys (Age 11 and 7) are supposed to be living young, wild, and free; they must start their life lessons. Those lessons go something like this:
These are the laws you must study today. Always know your rights.
When you get pulled over stay calm, turn your music down, have your license and registration attached to the visor overhead so it is always readily available, and no matter what keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do whatever you have to do to drive away safely.
When you walk in the store take your hood off. It does not matter that the person next to you of the opposite color has his on. You are seen as a threat and he is not. Also keep your hands out of your pockets until you leave out the store.
When talking to an officer or anyone else make sure your hands are visible at all times to prevent the escalation of the fear within a person that could cause harm to you.
Choose your battles wisely
Most importantly, should you find yourself in a situation where it is your life or someone else’s, DEFEND yourself at all times.
These are the life lessons that many children males and females of color have to go through at a young age. It does not matter that my children have been raised in the suburbs their whole lives and that their parents are veterans. Once they leave our neighborhood and even inside, they are still just a color to many that are filled with ignorant information about people like them. Many ask, “What do we do?” I wonder if there is anything we can do. There are still so many blind to everything that’s happening, many do not want to speak out because of fear of backlash, and then there are the main ones that are part of the problem. So for those that read this and want to chime in, feel free to tell me, “What do we do?”
Looking at this picture and watching everything going on currently with Ahmaud Arbery, I’m filled with so many emotions. Anger, frustration, fear, and many more.
I find it ironic that the very car my son has to walk past to get home could contain an individual so insecure and afraid of his melanin, his strength, his power that they consider him a threat already at the age of 11. Many really don’t understand the emotions we go through raising our young Kings in a world that wishes to harm them.
In the end it’s all just ignorance. Ignorance that has been passed down from generation to generation. Since the days of Emmett Till, George Stinney, and the many before whose names we do not know. Why must this continue to happen? What will be done for some type of justice? I have to say I have long ago lost date in the justice system. A system that I hold a degree in.
Many will say it’s all in our head, the victim did so many things wrong, he should have just complied, and the list goes on. The truth of the matter is the side of blue is not always right. Now I have to admit, there are some good ones out there and they try to make a difference, but very rarely do you see those people speak out in the public during times when their voice matters the most. I still will not discredit them for the good they are trying to do, but the time to be silent has long left the building.
At the age of 11 my child should not have to be ran through drills on how to behave just so I can feel somewhat secure knowing he has the tools to make it back home to me when the time comes. Another truth is that no matter how much he is trained, that means nothing when you have someone that is afraid of him based off the color of his skin or how they see his type to be portrayed on the television. He should be able to enjoy his youth without being looked at sideways because he wears his hood which he loved to do. He should not be considered disrespectful because he did not reply when he actually did not hear what was being said due to the fact that he currently has his earbuds in and not looking at the person to know they are speaking to him. He should not have to fear being shot down while jogging because people automatically assume because he’s running he’s committed a crime.
I try not to be that angry mother, but it’s difficult. Especially when you see these things constantly happening and nothing been done about it. An arrest doesn’t mean a conviction, the victim’s life shouldn’t be a trial when they’re not here to defend themselves, something clear as day on video should not be excused to appease those considered to reign supreme. My son will be a strong black man raised by a strong black man and woman. His parents fought for this country even when people in this country fought against them.
He will walk this earth with his head held up without an ounce of fear. I will house that fear that he is not allowed to have. He will know all the rules to abide by during a traffic stop and he will know all the ways to protect himself should he be put in a situation when he has to defend himself. He will be prepared.
Someone once said that when an old person dies a library burns down.
So you mean to tell me that all that knowledge and wisdom will be reduced to ashes simply because their spirit has left it’s temporary housing?
The walks of my people will now be erased like the rain pouring down to wash away footsteps, is that what you are saying?
Well that is something I just cannot accept.
My history will not be erased like what was tried to be done to the walls of the great pyramids.
The pyramids my ancestors built and left messages for those to come that have now been smeared to tell an altered story.
The story of my ancestors will live through me and the generations to come because they will be taught to never stop telling the story’s.
Through me they will know that their roots trace back to Benin, a country in West Africa that once was named the Dahomey Kingdom.
Through me they will know that my grandmother hid her deaf brother in the trunk of a car and drove from Tennessee to Illinois to escape being lynched.
Through me they will know that they have ties to the land between two rivers also known as Cairo, IL. Where race wars played a pivotal role in its downfall.
Through me they will know that their mother and father were soldiers and didn’t hesitate to fight for their country even though many are not so understanding of who they are.
And through me they will forever say the names Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Oscar Grant, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Pamela Turner, Korryn Gaines, Emmett Till, George Stinney, and the countless others throughout history.
For those names tell a story that will force the world to face a cold hearted reality that many just cannot accept, but will hear because it will never be silenced. Just like the tales from the old person that is no longer with us.
So yeah, some may feel a library is burned down when an old person dies, but I say it’s built stronger.
Every time the stories are told another book is added. And after all the shelves are full and there can be no more, more libraries will be built because my library will never burn down.