Can the #BlackLivesMatter Movement Change Television Forever?

The senseless murder of George Floyd last week by four Minneapolis police officers sparked an never-before-seen uprising in America. It’s never the goal to see an innocent person, no matter who they are, die in front of our eyes via cellphone video. Unfortunately that happened with George Floyd, and Americans are finally uniting are realizing that Black Lives Matter.

With protests erupting in all 50 states over the past ten days, Americans are finally uniting as one to let people know that we’re tired and enough is enough. People are finally coming to their senses and realizing that police departments all over this country are over-budgeted, under-trained when it comes to de-escalation tactics, and fundamentally not fit to patrol our neighborhoods that are the homes of law-abiding Black and Brown citizens. Law enforcement departments are paid for by our tax dollars to “protect and serve” – but who are they protecting? As a Black man in America, I do no feel protected, and I for damn sure am not being served by any police department in this country.

Police brutality is nothing new for Black people in this country. When I was 16 got “the talk” by my mother and grandfather. That talk wasn’t the sex talk, it was the “what do you do when you get pulled over by the cops” talk (notice I didn’t say “if,” but
“when”). No child should have to be told how to interact with the police because of their color, because they could be perceived as a threat and could potentially lose their life if one wrong move is made. Not all of you can relate to that.

Finally, people are realizing that excessive force used by the police is a reality, but not a reality for all. Everyday in America, Black people and People of Color are subjected to institutional racism that continues to reinforce the racist standards of the police organization, and people who don’t experience it are finally waking up, drinking the Kool-Aid and realizing this is wrong. Why did it take so long? Possibly due to the fact this this time the death of an unarmed, innocent Black man unfolded right before our eyes in a long, heart-wrenching 8 minute and 46 second video. Did the world need to actually see a Black man die in order for change to happen? If so, fuck – we live is a terrible world that needs an immediate change.

George Floyd isn’t the first Black person to unnecessarily die in the hands of law enforcement. We may not be saying their names as loudly, but we must also remember Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s names as well, in addition to the countless other people who have been mistreated by the police. Just this week, two innocent Atlanta college students, Teniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young were needlessly and aggressively confronted by six Atlanta police officers while in their vehicle, minding their own business. Police swarmed Young’s vehicle while stopped in traffic, his tires were slashed, windows were busted, Pilgrim was dragged from the vehicle while Young was tased repeatedly – all while a white girl in the car right in front of them gleefully waved to the camera capturing the whole ordeal. White privilege much?

The systemic racism has to stop. The police brutality must stop. The militarization of our police departments must stop. The senseless killing of our Black men and women must stop!

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always tired to prove to society that I’m not a threat. It’s been a tiring subconscious action that’s been at the top of my mind since I was a teenager. It was to ensure these senseless acts wouldn’t happen to me. Now I’m thinking “what’s the point?” It could happen anyways. I could be walking down the street and still be perceived as a “threat” to someone who may not recognize me. I could be driving, not signal while turning a corner and it can happen to me. Like George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Pamela Turner, Eric Gardner – the list goes on and on – it happened to them. Don’t forget their names! I will not forget Iyanna Dior, because Trans Lives Matters, too!

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is changing the way we look at our police organizations and our governmental policies, but as a nation that’s always consumed television and media is vast amounts, is it going to change the television industry that glorifies police culture so much, especially in the midst of the nationwide protest? It’s hard to tell since police officers are a cornerstone of television. Am I calling for the cancellation of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Blue Bloods, Chicago P.D and the countless other police shows on television? No, but I’d like a more realistic portrayals of what police officers really are like. Television is over-reliant of glorifying these agencies and always portraying them as “the good guys” and “saviors” of our communities. If we’ve learned this week, is that it’s the complete opposite. Cops in real life are the heroes that we’re brainwashed to believe. I do understand that the point of these programs aren’t to be political and are purely for entertainment and profit, but after six decades of primarily showcasing police officers in (mostly) positive lenses, television shields the atrocities that many departments around this country display on a daily basis – many that go unseen and unreported – the police propaganda machine that is television must come to an end, and reality needs to set in somewhere. All cops aren’t good, so why are they all good on TV?

It would’ve been irresponsible of me to have this platform to continue with the status quo of talking about television and the upcoming Emmy season without voicing my concerns on what’s going on in society as these tragedies play out in real time on the news and on social media. I wanted to share my thoughts on what’s going on in the world, and hope that thing’s get better. Never again do I want to see a Black man (or any person for that matter) die in the arms of police officers. Never again do I want to see innocent college students being victims of power hungry police officers. Never again do I want to see a Black person, or a person of the LGBTQ community have the police called on them for the sole purpose of having dark skin or because of the identity they feel the most comfortable. I’m so tired of the sleepless nights, the shock trauma on a constant loop in my head, and the worry that it can happen to me, or a friend, or a loved one, or another stranger. I’m sick and tired of Black people’s name becoming a #hashtag and their legacy being associated with tragedy because of a trigger-happy police officer. No matter what clothes I wear, or what upscale Chicago neighborhood I live in, or new car I drive, or who I associate with, it can happen to me, and it pisses me off that it can happen anytime. It all needs stop.



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