Skip to content

Invisible Men.

George Floyd’s daughter should be set for life. 

Not long after her father was laid to rest, news broke that Barbra Streisand purchased shares of Disney stock in her name. Kanye West will pay for her college tuition. A Gofundme created for her has raised an estimated $2.1 million dollars.  

Similar support has been given to the family of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed in Atlanta after by a police officer who found him sleeping in a car. Several local entrepreneurs have gifted his widow a new car, along with life insurance and college tuition for his 3 surviving children.

These are two examples of how communities and celebrities can quickly come together to support the survivors of Black men killed by police violence. The murder of George Floyd, captured on video as his life was pressed out of him by Officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and forty-five seconds while other officers stood by, has sparked worldwide outrage that erupted in ongoing protests against the horrors inflicted on Black bodies on a level surpassing the uprisings after Mike Brown’s death.

But I can’t help but wonder, why no one seemed to care about these men until they were dead?

George Floyd was like many Black men. A big dude who parlayed his athletic skill into a football scholarship but dropped out, bounced around from music to odd jobs before getting caught up but trying to keep straight and figure out his life. Rayshard Brooks was the same, a young Black man who spent some time in jail but served his time, only to be crushed by the weight of restitution and legal fees and struggling to find a job when a Black male with a criminal record is excluded from most employment. 

These are not uncommon stories and they would be unremarkable if not for the manner of their deaths at the hands of agents of the state. And that’s the problem. So many Black men in America exist in a sort of twilight world, hanging on to their freedom by a thread, a permanent underclass that people can project their fears and hatred on until that projection materialises in brutality. 

America is a machine that feeds on the suffering of Black males. Even movements created to end that suffering use the same fuel. From postcards of lynchings that were shared among white people and later used by anti-lynching activists, to Mamie Till-Mobely allowing an open casket at her son Emmett’s funeral so the world could see in her childs disfigured face the ravages of American racism. In the present, cellphone videos of police killing unarmed Back men are the main drivers of mass social justice movements. Atrocity will get people into the streets and money into non-profits. But the quiet violence of denying men opportunities to redeem themselves in a society set up for them to fail goes ignored.

There are George Floyds and Rayshard Brooks’ around us every day, brothers who may have made some mistakes or not have been as lucky as some of us. But when they need us, we let their calls go to voicemail or make excuses for why we can’t help. It’s only when they can be used as symbols and performative wokeness that we care.

In the month since George Floyd’s murder, police departments and white america are having to address the human cost of American policing. The killing of Rayshard Brooks has forced the city of Atlanta to start waking up from it’s “Black Mecca” dream to deal with the Black people left out of that illusion. And the United Nations is looking at addressing the treatment African Americans receive from law enforcement as a human rights issue. If the deaths of these Black men, and thousands more, create lasting change then the horror of the way they died may have meaning. 

But it would’ve been better if their Black lives mattered as much as their deaths.

4 Comments

  1. Adonis Adonis

    Excellent piece.

    I really love how you tie back to the lynching postcards & tie them to modern videos of police brutality. One of the major issues with people — especially white people — sharing the videos of police brutality is that while it raises political awareness, it also causes trauma to black kids/viewers. I imagine that the lynching postcards had the same effect and it’s disheartening to see how little things change over time.

    Thank you for writing, I admire your work.

  2. Cardis Berry Cardis Berry

    No body cares about us black men in America and that’s a Fact.

    We the black men of America are targeted for extinction.
    We as black men are only relevant after death,…and memories!
    No body supports us and that’s ok because we are going to rise to the Top one day.
    No body is with us because we are on the bottom of this bullshit and every body is scared of the white man.

    Fuck justice we want REVENGE on these mother fuckers called white boy’s.
    They murder us for sport and laugh about it on YouTube.

  3. Cardis Berry Cardis Berry

    Oh creator I want to say thank you for making me the African.

    I want to thank you creator for my Nappy Hair.
    I want to thank you creator for my Dark Melanin rich skin.
    I want to thank you creator for my Wide nose.
    I want to thank you creator for my thick big lips.
    I want to thank you creator for my Dark eyes.
    I want to thank you creator for giving me the richest part of the Planet called Africa.
    I want to thank you creator for allowing me to maintain my African-ism after 400 years of Slavery.
    I want to thank you creator for keeping me Conscious after 400 years of slavery.
    I want to thank you creator for freeing my mind from the prison of white Supremacy.
    I want to thank you creator for making me excel above all others in all that I do.
    I want to thank you creator for allowing me to civilize the world.

    Oh creator when I look up in the sky at night.

    I see the stars hanging bright.
    I acknowledge the Black material in which I come from called Black matter.
    I acknowledge the Black material in the context of black power.
    I acknowledge the Black material as the supporter of all things in the Universe.
    Oh creator I want to thank you for the Black power Consciousness that you have given to me.

    “This is a prayer that is designed to enhance the African mind”

    By Brother Cardis

    Listening is an Art form and a Science

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *