Life with Gracie: Dallas shootings, deadly ambushes: This has to stop

Moments after news broke of Alton Sterling’s shooting death by police in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think, “Here we go again. Black male. White cop.”

Then the very next day, we get news of Philando Castile’s death by police officer in Minnesota.

I moved on with my life the way I always do, prayerfully. I have two brothers. I have dozens of nephews. I have a husband. All law abiding citizens. Almost all of them have experienced racial profiling by police at one time or another.

All of them are concerned by what they’ve experienced, witnessed or read in news reports about black men and police.

To date, of the thousands of fatal shootings by police officers since 2005, only 54 have been charged, according to a Washington Post analysis, and most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that were resolved.

It’s enough to make you wanna holler.

Today I simply feel like I imagine civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer must have felt in 1964 when she famously told the Democratic Convention that she “was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I feel exhausted, really, by the racial tension. And after talks with my husband, my brothers, my nephews, I’m worried for them.

It would seem that none of them are exempt from this possibly happening to them.

We need to talk, but more than anything, we need to listen to one another for understanding. We need to wake up to the hopelessness and the despair in the black community. We need to speak truth to power brokers and see it as our mission.

Last week we celebrated America’s freedom. But we are not free. The festering sore of racial inequality that I see in the carnage and chaos playing out on our streets, whether we admit it or not, has us all bound.

I read it and felt it in a multitude of Facebook posts by black mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.

On Thursday night, after a long drive home to Mississippi, images of the Dallas protest flashed across the television screen as I sat talking with my 40-year-old nephew. His frustration and anger were palpable.

I had nothing to offer him. “Be careful out there,” was all I had.

Black or white, we tell our children this all the time. When you’re the parent or wife of a black male, you feel the threat on their lives 100 times over.

I’ve said this all before in this space, and each time I’m struck by the response I get from so many readers who believe these men get what they deserve; they had it coming. I’m struck by those who ask where was I when news about black-on-black crime broke.

For the record, I’m just as saddened by that. All of us are.

But that doesn’t justify police killing black men only to be placed on administrative leave.

When people respond with blatant disregard for life, I have to wonder just how many hate-filled injustice-prone folk there are. It feels like a lid lifting atop a simmering pot.

When Hamer addressed the DNC, she had words for the vice presidential hopeful that seem appropriate here: If we lose something in our stand for what is right, God will take care of us.

I believe we are better than this. I also believe, just as NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said, we can fix this once and for all.

Just as we ended segregation, we can end these police shootings of black men.

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