The Daily Aztec

Being black in America is still exhausting

by Jasmine Mouzon, Staff Writer

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On Oct. 3, yet another African American man fell victim to police brutality. 

Morehouse College graduate, Chinedu Okobi, 36,  was tased to death on the streets of San Mateo, Calif.

Okobi had developed a mental illness while studying for the GMAT at Morehouse and it affected him greatly throughout his life.

However, on the day he was murdered, I doubt he thought his mental illness would lead to his death. 

Police received a call about a man wandering through traffic.

Chinedu’s mental illness led him to wander off, and when police arrived, he became paranoid. 

As any other African -American, he knew too well what happens when an African-American man is confronted by police officers. 

Okobi and the officers got into a scuffle, which resulted in the two officers tasing Chinedu several times, knocking him unconscious and later killing him. 

He was unarmed.

After finding out about her brother’s death, Ebele Okobi said she does not have the emotional strength to have a black husband or raise a son in America. 

This narrative continues to repeat itself. 

An African-American man, unarmed and scared for his life, was senselessly murdered by those who are sworn to protect and serve our community. 

To be black in America means automatic association with deviancy. 

In the book “The New Jim Crow” by civil rights litigator and legal scholar, Michelle Alexander, she states “being black in America means to be a criminal.”

Whether or not a crime is being committed, it is the default to assume if the individual is breathing while black, they are doing something wrong. 

Okobi was clearly in a mental crisis, and instead of police officers calling professionals who are trained to de-escalate situations and help the victim, police officers decided to handle it on their own and kill an innocent man in the process. 

Of course, some will ask “was he complying?” or “was he armed?” and despite the outcome, we never question the professionalism of law enforcement. 

Police academies need to focus on reforming its program and teaching  officers better de-escalation tactics. 

If additional time is taken out to train law enforcement in different mediation skills, the number of these “accidental” and unnecessary deaths could be avoided. 

As for the black community, maybe we too should take precaution in order to avoid acts of police brutality against us.

For example we need to avoid the following: 

Selling unlicensed cigarettes, see: Eric Garner

Failing to signal while switching lanes, see: Sandra Bland

Following procedure and letting officers know about the gun and gun permit, see: Philando Castile

Reaching for a wallet, see Amadou Diallo

Riding the BART with a group of friends, see: Oscar Grant

Playing with a toy gun at the age of 12, see: Tamir Rice

Opening the door of our own apartment, see: Botham Jean

Selling CD’s outside of a convenience store, see Alton B. Sterling

The list of unarmed black people  killed by police officers goes on forever. 

How long until the world finally realizes black bodies are systematically marginalized? 

It does not matter how calm or compliant an individual is. 

If an officer wants to kill an unarmed person, they’re going to do it regardless. 

Many say race is not a factor, but why is it that police officers only seem to remember how to follow protocol when they are dealing with white suspects? 

As a whole, black people are constantly disregarded and barely treated as human. 

America loves to profit off of black bodies when they dominate almost every professional sport, but when it comes to our civil rights, we’re neglected. 

The reason we chant “black lives matter” isn’t because we don’t believe all lives matter, it’s because black people are treated like subhumans. 

We can’t ignore this.

It’s time to start promoting unity and realizing some police officers are behaving barbarically. 

Like Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, said, “There’s nothing wrong with being a cop. There’s nothing wrong with being a white person.It’s about where your heart is… we’ve got to get everyone beyond the xenophobic isolationism.” 

Jasmine Mouzon is senior studying Africana studies.

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