Last week in Los Angeles I met with a group of high-level individuals from the Black civil-rights community. They were planning a large protest march. As I listened to everyone voicing their opinions about several things that should be demanded from white America during the march, I raised my hand to make two points. For one, I felt that as a community, we would only be effective if we could unite behind one clear goal rather than a whole bag of ideas. Marches don't make sense if the marchers can't get their point across. Watch the movie Selma and you'll know what I mean.
Second, I raised the question of what our demand of our own people was. At that point I got some funny stares, but the reactions really got crazy, and I was quickly shot down when I suggested what such a demand could be. Here's what caused the outrage. I mentioned how, in a number of cases of Black men being killed by police, they actually weren't gunned down right away without warning. Instead, several of these men were approached by police first and asked to raise their hands or get on the ground but didn't comply. Now, I am not justifying what the officers did by any means, and I do believe that racial profiling and exaggerated brutality are a serious problem in law enforcement today. However, some of these very public deaths in our community could have been prevented had men like Mike Brown and Eric Garner promptly complied with police instructions. Shouldn't we include it in our goals to school our sons to follow police instructions, if it can save lives?
A stunning example for this is the recent case in Duncanville, Texas, where a Black teenager's death was only avoided thanks to the bravery of a white police officer. Alerted by a 911 call made by an African-American woman, officer Ben Luna rushed to a street corner where three young Black men were walking around allegedly "with a big old f****** gun," as the caller put it. When Luna arrived at the scene, he exited his vehicle and ordered the young men to put their hands up and get on the ground. Only one of the men raised his hands, but he continued to walk toward the officer, while the other two sat down on the curb with their hands down. The gun, it later turned out, was fake but an exact replica of a Beretta 92F.
Watch the video below and tell me you wouldn't feel threatened if you were in this policeman's shoes. If Officer Luna had shot one of these young men, we would have dozens of new headlines today, such as "White Texas Cop Shoots Unarmed Black Teenager." Call me whatever you'd like, but I care more about saving lives than what people think of me. Parents and community leaders, please teach our young people to obey the law and do their part.