To the Police Officers of America,

On behalf of the black men and women of this country, I would like to apologize for our resistance. Our actions are reactionary, engrained in our psyche from birth; one could say they are genetically passed down from generation to generation. I think, if I explained things to you, maybe you could understand.

400 years ago or so, men and women that looked a lot like you came to a country where the men and women looked a lot like me. They brought religion and a message of salvation. The people that looked like me didn’t need salvation, so they resisted. The men and women that looked like you didn’t appreciate their lack of gratitude for the offered salvation and left, only to return with a different message. The people who looked like me were given an ultimatum to work for the people who looked like you, or die. So, like the kings and queens and warriors they were, they resisted. They fought, but the people who looked like you brought guns. The people who looked like me were shot and killed by the people who looked like you. The spears, bows and arrows, and knives were no match for the gun.

The people who looked like you put the people who looked like me on boats and set sail for America. Hundreds and thousands of people who looked like me were chained, packed in the hull of boats like sardines. No food, little water, and left for months in their own feces. Those that couldn’t survive the trip, were thrown overboard. Those that were sick, were thrown overboard. Those that resisted, were thrown overboard.

The boats landed in Jamestown Virginia, a historical national park for people that look like you. For people that look like me, it’s a place of mourning. It is our Pearl Harbor, our Ground Zero. Over the next century, people who looked like you turned people who looked like me into slaves. Day by day, boat by boat, they were brought over. Millions of people who looked like me brought to America by people who looked like you to do the work that people who looked like you couldn’t do; the people that looked like me were enslaved to build America.

However, the people who looked like me were a strong people. They resisted. They fought. They died. The resistance began to be too much for the people that looked like you. So, they divided in order to conquer. The people who looked like you destroyed the culture, the language, and the family structure of every single person brought on those boats by separation, torture, and public killings. Eventually, the people who looked like me agreed to call the people who looked like you, Master.

For the next 200 years the people who looked like me were slaves for the people who looked like you. But, like I said, they were a strong people. They fought back again. They created passageways to lands with possibilities. They created systems of communication to give hope to the possibility of more. When their pain began to be too much to bear, they resisted. They resisted so much so that the president at the time had no choice but to set them free. He is known as the president who freed the slaves, but the truth is the slaves freed themselves, with resistance. 

For the next century, the people who looked like me found themselves in a zombie-like state. They were in a foreign land, though, it was the only land they knew. They weren’t allowed to be a part of functional society and many were forced to be a new slave. A slave to the rules and regulations of the government. Jim Crow, segregation, and the formation of modern police departments became the new slavery. After the slaves were freed many of the slave patrols and night watches turned into police departments. Same function, different name. Since the name of the patrol changed, so did the name of the people patrolling. The people who looked like me went from calling the people who looked like you, Master to Officer.

“Jim Crow, segregation, and the formation of modern police departments became the new slavery. After the slaves were freed many of the slave patrols and night watches turned into police departments. Same function, different name.”

The Officer, the new master to the new slave, became the new fight for people who looked like me. The people who looked like me, despite the new master, thrived with their new found freedom. They began to go to school, build communities, and go to college. The Officer feared the new slave. The new slave was smarter, more confident, and more dangerous because of it. The Officer used segregation as its weapon of choice. People who looked like you were the enforcers of the rules set forth by the government in order to control the new slave. The rules lacked equity.

The lack of equity ballooned into the civil rights movement, where people who looked like me were asking people who looked like you to stop.

Stop hating us, you brought us here. Stop beating us, you brought us here. Stop torturing us, you brought us here. Stop killing us, you brought us here. That cry to stop didn’t sit well with a lot of local and state governments. They used the Officer to express their sentiments. So, people who looked like you, literally, let the dogs and the hose loose on people who looked like me. However, the people who looked like me are a strong people. They resisted. They resisted with protest, sit ins, marches, and politics. They resisted peacefully. In the aftermath, at least from a public viewpoint, it seemed as if things were improving, but it was just the calm before the storm. 

By that point, people who looked like you had been trained for hundreds of years to hate, control, and, if need be, kill people who looked like me. It is the nature of the creation of the officer. Yet, the officer was being, publicly, asked to change. Something so engrained–one could almost say genetically passed down from generation to generation– could not be so easily changed. One would be valid in questioning if it could be changed at all.

In 1992, Rodney King, a man who looked like me, was nearly beat to death by a group of men who looked like you. The beating was caught on film and yet it was not enough for a jury to find those men guilty. Now, the government created the police department as a way of policing the new slave. So, it should be no surprise that the government would protect its officers when they were simply doing as they were told. The already  monstrous divide, between people who looked like you and people who looked like me, got wider. A riot ensued and it created a conversation across the nation about the relationship between people who looked like you and people who looked like me.

By 2001, that conversation was overshadowed by the tragedy of 9/11 and, for a moment, publicly, the situation was put on hold. Until March 3, 2012. 

On March 3, 2012, a boy, who looked like me was shot and killed. Not by someone who looked like people who look like you, but someone who thought he was you. He killed a boy who was unarmed and hadn’t harmed a soul. He killed a boy and got away with it. He got away with it simply because he thought he was you.

I won’t inundate you with all the names that have cycled through the media of people who look like me that have been killed by people who look like you. The names that have been put on posters and billboards. The names that spark protest and unity amongst people who look like me. The names that have inspired people who look like me to shout black lives matter from the  mountain tops that Martin Luther King wanted us all to be on. The names that have inspired a nation of people who look like me to resist.

We resist when you pull us over 

We resist when you speak to us 

We resist to trust you 

We resist to support you 

We resist to believe you 

Because people who look like you were created to kill and control people who look like me. 

It’s engrained in our DNA. 

400 plus years of connection. 

400 years of killing and resisting. 

You are asked to serve and protect and you are fooled into believing you are serving and protecting the people. The reality is you are serving and protecting the governments mission to control and kill people who look like me. You are serving and protecting the constitution. The same constitution that enslaved people who look like me. You have been fooled into believing that people who look like you are the enemy of people who look like me. You’re trained to target people who look like me as suspects but I assure you we are the victims.

People who look like me have trained generation after generation after generation that people who look like you kill people who look like me because that is what you were created to do. That is the role of the Officer.

Our resistance is not in spite of you. It is an innate survival tactic. If you want us to stop resisting, stop killing. Redefine your existence. Until then, you will always be viewed as the new master; I, the new slave. This is our history of resistance.

Sincerely,

All the people who look like me


Featured image by Glenn Halog: Flickr.