Black Men: ‘I’m Tired of Feeling Like Someone’s Enemy’

After a video of a man being tased by cops is released, The Root writers react and reflect on the dangers for black men in America.

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Editor’s note: We began this summer with a commemoration of Freedom Summer 50 years after blood was shed on Southern soil to ensure our inalienable right to vote as citizens of these United States. We end this summer with renewed cries for freedom—the freedom to walk our neighborhood streets without dying, the freedom to pick up a toy without getting shot and the freedom to wait for our children after school, as Chris Lollie was attempting to do, without getting tased by police.

Terron Moore, The Root’s Social Media Editor

What’s most telling to me in this video aren’t the moments where an innocent man is defending his own innocence for no reason, as his screams for help seemingly go unanswered while his children look on. That cuts deep, but I took note of the brief moments where this unarmed man makes what would become one of his last attempts to state his case.

“You’re gonna go to jail.”

“I’m not doing anything wrong.”

And moments later:

“Come on, brother.”

“I’m not here to argue. I’m not your brother.”

The female officer in this video—doing her job as sternly as she could—still seemed as if she didn’t want the situation escalated any further. The male officer, however, asserted his aggression from the moment he enters the picture—and in his refusal to listen lies the real problem. It’s all in the officer’s attitude—that “I’m not your brother”—which shows that regardless of the fact that Chris Lollie was a hardworking, harmless family man, he had Lollie marked as an enemy.

I’m so tired of feeling like someone’s enemy wherever I go. I’m exhausted as a young black man being perpetually confused about how to simply exist without antagonizing a cop or terrifying a white person. The man in this video did not have to be attacked, just as I believe Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin did not have to die. After August, it’s never been more real to me that one day I may have to defend my life because someone sees me as the wrong shade of black. And that’s beyond terrifying.

Stephen Crockett, The Root’s Associate Editor of News

My dad once had a gun pulled on him by a police officer when I was 10. He had been working at the Library of Congress for years when he took me with him one weekend to do research for a school project. Something was wrong with his ID. The officer at the door told him to go down to security to find out what was going on. Minutes later, my dad was being told to back up, with a gun drawn on him. I was crying. I didn’t even know what was going on. We have never talked about it, and my relationship with the police has always been torn.

The black man in the video goes from father who knows his rights to castrated black man within seconds, and I don’t know how it feels, but the Ferguson wound hasn’t healed. I am too raw to even talk about this. I could barely watch the video for work purposes because his screams are frightening and sad, and I know that they will fall flat, since the people who were supposed to help him are the ones who are inflicting the pain.

I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what the children saw, I don’t know the full context, but I know that the partial exposure of this photograph is one I have seen before. And I am tried. Tired of police. Tired of guns being drawn or force being applied to people who look like me or my uncle or my father. I am tired of having to know the law as well as a lawyer just to be a black man who enjoys his rights. And I’m tired of those cases, like Ferguson, where hands up—which, even in freeze tag, means surrender—means something else for a black man, and sitting in a public area can lead to public humiliation.