This past June in McKinney, Texas, we watched the video of officer Eric Casebolt slam to the ground and place his knee in the back of then 15-year-old Dajerria Becton. Casebolt detained her as other officers attempted to arrest other Black kids who attended an interracial pool party. Becton had the nerve to use her voice and disapprove of the actions of Officer Casebolt and his fellow officers. As the teen lay helpless on the ground in a bikini bottom and top; she cried out, “Someone call my momma.”
On Monday, we witnessed officer Ben Fields first seize, body slam and then toss a female student across a filled classroom of her peers and then handcuff her. I imagine, though it isn’t audible in the video of the incident, she called out for her mother or someone too.
Regardless of the screams and cries for help, Black parents alone cannot save their children. In most cases, if they tried to intervene, they would become victims of the same fate.
Truthfully, it’s going to take us all to stop this type of senseless aggression. There’s no Black mother or father alone that can change the path that America has embarked on to destroy its Black brothers and sisters. No ally, who doesn’t see the struggle as theirs, is coming with millions of dollars to back the NAACP or the Black Lives Matter movement.
Only when we collectively start to shift our consciousness and start seeing Black children and the Black family as a part of each other’s family will we ever truly see change. When we collectively start to see our daughters, sisters, and nieces in these videos, we will seek to change the system. Until we see ourselves, we will never fix what’s broken inside of us all.
Recently I asked a friend, who’s White, how the police were portrayed to him as a child. His response resembled how many of my other White friends describe the police: helpful superhero types who come along to destroy all things evil.
Juxtapose that image with how I grew up to understand the police and their role in my community. My grandfather never ever had one kind word to say about the police. He actually introduced the term “roaches” as a way to describe the police and their presence in our community. And every other member of my family only spoke about the police as a group of individuals whom I should always avoid, and if we did cross paths, to show great deference towards in order to save my own life. Even now, as an adult, I have never ever felt remotely comfortable in the presence of a police officer.
My mother and father were the only people I imagined could save me due to my understanding that those superhero police my white friends mused about, were never going to rescue me. Their blue-outfitted presence and badges meant pillage.
So when I heard Dajerra Becton call out for her mother, I immediately became her because I’ve been in distress before and called out for my mother. As I watched the #assaultatspringvalleyhigh trend, I became that young Black girl because I’ve felt helpless as someone drunk with power ruled over my body. Then I became the kids in the classroom who had to endure the horror of watching a classmate be assaulted and then wonder could they be next. And then go home and tells a parent, a guardian or someone the story, all the while knowing whomever they tell is powerless in saving them.
I didn’t become the teacher who couldn’t muster the courage to intervene and watched in cowardice as the young girl was brutalized.
But America created, and is that teacher, who can stand and watch its children be brutalized by so-called superheroes. America intentionally created a world where many Black fathers are behind bars for crimes that were invented because they were Black men and where many Black mothers are locked in another kind jail, ‘the pink-collar ghetto’ (low wage dead end jobs for women) so when Black kids scream out for help to the only people they believe will help them, they can’t always be there.
So when an officer nicknamed ‘The Incredible Hulk’ walks into a classroom full of children and a teacher and with extreme brute force assaults a teenage girl; two things must be true at the same time. One, he’s done something similar before and two, he firmly believe his actions are warranted and he can act with impunity.
And why wouldn’t he believe he could treat every Black girl like an animal when everywhere you turn we can hear Black women be referred to as animals? (See Serena and Venus Williams and Our First Lady Michelle Obama as evidence).
So who can Black children call on to save them? Maybe like the LGBT struggle, they need allies. Or maybe like the fight to end the prison industrial complex, someone needs to make ‘the business’ or economic case to end the assault on the Black children. Or maybe we can see superhero movies were Black children are consistently being saved to help adjust our consciousness around the value of them.
Truthfully, we must all muster of courage of Niya Kenny, classmate of the assaulted young teen, who was arrested and given a $1000 bond after answering the call and trying to help her classmate. Maybe Niya intervened because she saw a new schoolmate, her classmate, a potential friend, or quite possibly herself, in the eyes of the young girl. At that moment, she knew the only thing she could do was help her sister in need.
Movements aren’t ultimately successful because we changed “hearts and minds.” Individuals seeing themselves in the struggle of others are how we have achieved success.
When will we start to see Black children as members of the American family instead of finding reasons to excuse away the hatred toward them? The next time a Black child is in need and cries out for someone, we should all be there ready to answer the call.
Former NFL player Wade Davis is a writer, public speaker, and educator on gender, race, and LGBT equality. Currently, he’s the executive director of the You Can Play Project and a diversity consultant for the NFL and the global consultancy firm, YSC.