A Black Man’s Search to Confront Racism and Self-Love

Gordon Parks

I love my daughter Niah, she has grown up to be an informed and engaged member of society. Niah sent me a text last night with one question… what you think about all of this? I automatically knew what she was referring to, as I watched the national protest around the senseless killing of George Floyd.

My only response was it is sad! She wrote back a few minutes later. What are you going to say about it, daddy you are running for office, are you seeing the protest in Brooklyn, Daddy you have to say something. My heart stopped and I could only say yes, I need to, but quietly I did not know what to say. I watched the multitude of ethnic and community groups, white, black, Latino and Asian standing in solidarity over the continued civil rights infringement on my race and my races’ male gender. What can I add to this lack of respect and love for mankind and the humanity of respect?

Khari O. Edwards

At that very moment,  a Google alert popped up on my phone. I had another violent level 1 trauma at my hospital. Another black man killed in East Brooklyn by another black man! It became very clear to me what was going on. While we are standing in solidarity over another senseless killing by a police officer, we are being distracted about the other issues that run concurrently with racism and police brutality. It became very clear, while watching the protest and saying we are supporting the injustice of another black man, blacks are killing blacks, while our focus is elsewhere; it became crystal clear!

We are protesting because we are fed up, all of us, which to the delight of the establishment, has distracted us from giving the same attention to our own self-destruction. We have lost giving the same attention to our healthcare and housing and lack of employment and equal education. We have been distracted from concentrating on taking a bigger piece of the puzzle and solving it once and for all. When have we gotten so many cities, and so many cultures and races, holding up signs of unity, and when have the social injustices that we live with everyday mobilized and marched into poor communities to address the results of true racism?

When are we going to pull together a gathering, where CNN or ABC or BBC come to watch us address our societal inequities instead of riots and looting, that started out peaceful?

After this cop, there will be another. Are we going to continue to wait for the next one of us to die, by someone else’s hands and not protest that we are also killing our own? Without us knowing we are asking for equality when we allow our own kind to treat us just as poorly. It is time that we stop thinking that any justice or conviction of a cop will somehow stop this culture racism especially when they see us not loving each other.

Do we think this is going to stop? When are we also going to march and protest the bubble we have been placed in by our leaders and laws, that continue to marginalize our ability to grow and respect each other, when they cut services to our healthcare, to education to our after school programs, food equity programs, but instead put dollars into more police and less into officer training. Yet, we expect better results.

There is always going to be evil in the world, that cop, much like the others who have killed us dating back centuries are evil. But when you watch the alarming rate of acquittals and the continued fraternity of elevating their own, we as a community… a community of the underserved and wrongly policed have to know the correlation of respect that we desire to obtain, starts within our neighborhoods. Our black on black crime, our lack of respect for one another, make them think it is ok because we cannot stand together enough to stop our own genocide, so why not assist us in it.

We must find a way to crack this ongoing structure that has us killing ourselves, destroying what belongs to us, the same exact time that we are protesting. If not, we will always give that jury of 12  – their peers not ours – the right to determine our worth.

Khari O. Edwards is the Vice President of External Affairs at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, which serves one million people mainly in the East Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, New Lots, East New York and Canarsie. Mr. Edwards is also a candidate for Brooklyn Borough President.