Nothing like good old fashioned propaganda.
When I first saw the image of Devonte Hart, a 12 year old Black boy, tearfully hugging white policeman Brett Barnum, I just looked at it curiously. I didn’t know quite what to think, but it just didn’t seem quite right.
A picture and tell a thousand words, but there is far more beneath the surface of this now-famous jpeg. First of all, young Devonte attended a Ferguson protest rally in Portland, Oregon when the image was taken. So, he clearly was “aware” of the climate in the mid-west with Darren Wilson and was an opponent to police brutality. He was also wearing a “Free Hugs” sign. By the time officer Barnum came through, Devonte was already crying, because he was already terrified of the police, some charge.
This certainly jibes with the reality I’ve seen firsthand.
The young kids I know of similar ages to Devonte don’t have favorable sentiments about the law enforcement these days and the range of the emotion is wide. One pair of twin boys I know are absolutely scared to leave their New York home now, because they fear Darren Wilsons lurk around every corner. (Nevermind what mental baggage they may have over previous cases of police brutality in New York City.) My daughter is very aware of what is going on across American and my family had a lengthy conversation over dinner Thanksgiving day. Other kids are innocently oblivious. None of them, however, are tearfully hugging police for any reason.
We are being terrorized, physically and mentally. This includes our children.
When I was a child, I had little reason to fear the police. I hardly ever saw them growing up in in the boondocks of Newark, Delaware. We had other menaces like the KKK in nearby Elkton, Maryland to contend with. However, by the time I became a teenager, everything changed. I was acutely aware of the threat of police and even would memorize their headlines in case they tried to sneak up to pull us over for no reason. In hindsight, their activities were often illegal and, by today’s standard, could have gotten any of my friends killed. Police are just on it like that.
Take Eric Garner of Staten Island for example. His soul weeps.
There are 7 kids that will never see their dad again and now they will never see justice either. The police officer that illegally choked their dad Eric Garner will not be indicted for any offense whatsoever. They aren’t going to be giving free hugs to any police anytime soon.
Devonte Hart cries.
We won’t know why until we hear from him, but there is reason for him to weep if you look at the state of affairs.
American police, self-appointed vigilante and other scumbags have declared it open season on Black men and Black people and know with much certainty that they will not be punished. It is probably setting in Devonte’s mind that is life is probably valued less than his White female guardian, who encouraged him to huge the police in amid the bevy of cameras. Perhaps Devonte knows about Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old that was murdered by Cleveland police in under 2-seconds of them arriving on the scene of…no crime being committed. He had a toy gun. And now, the cops are lying in that case, refuting evidence in video footage. I don’t know Devonte, but he may be crying, because he sees a future where he can be slayed at any stage of his life and 1) police will walk unpunished 2) the masses will be largely apathetic and 3) he’ll never get to reach the vast potential that his guardian bragged about before the infamous hug.
This is war – mental and physical.
Seeds are being planted in children. They are being taught the value of their lives through the eyes of the media and actions of the system (police, prison, courts). We MUST stand up. Seeds are being planted. Children are being told to play weak and passive in order to survive. We MUST stand up. Seeds are being planted. Children are being told that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want and there isn’t anything we can do to combat such injustice. Real change transcends viral, trending pseudo photo-op that gives comfort to those that don’t truly want to address the discomfort in having real conversations about race, inequity, domestic terrorism and cold-blooded murder.
Don’t let these devilish seeds flourish. Kill them dead.
I pray that whatever dreams, hopes and happiness live in Devonte Hart, Eric Garner’s children and millions of kids like them are allowed to thrive in these divided states of ours.
Image source: Johnny Nguyen, Instagram