What ‘human rights’ don’t look like
Recently a friend sent me the following list. I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. It was compiled by Dr. Valerie Bryant, a Black therapist in Brooklyn, NY. In the list she names black citizens threatened or killed in recent years while engaging in the behaviors she names.
Think of Dr. Bryant’s list as a roll call clarifying the difference between living black or brown, and living white in the USA. It’s also an invitation to reflection about ourselves, and the meaning of human rights.
…As a white person when you go out in the street, you don’t have to think twice of being murdered by a police officer or citizen acting like a police officer.
Or as a white person,
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper).
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery).
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark).
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis).
I can sell CD’s (#AltonSterling).
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
I can go to church (#Charleston9).
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant).
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford) .
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott).
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
I can run (#WalterScott).
I can breathe (#EricGarner).
I can live (#FreddieGray).
I can be arrested without the fear of being murdered. (#GeorgeFloyd)
***These are NOT human rights if only white people have them.*
With compassionate rage
Valerie Bryant, PhD
Fort Greene Bklyn 11205
How would my world change if I woke up with different colored skin than I now have? Can I remember how I was taught to think or talk about skin color?
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 June 2020
Image found at stlpublicradio.com