Alton Sterling Is Dead And We All Know What Will Happen Next

07.06.16 1 year ago 56 Comments

There are no new takes to write.

The subject matter has been trampled over so many times, that all you can see are the flimsy justifications beneath it. If you knew nothing about Alton Sterling — besides the fact he was murdered at the hands of a police officer — you could probably guess that his mugshot from a previous arrest was circulated within 12 hours of his death. You already knew that the reason he was interacting with police in the first place would be a misdemeanor level infraction, if he had broken the law at all. You probably didn’t bat an eye when you heard that both officers involved in the shooting had their body cams malfunction at the most inopportune time.

You knew it.

Even if you couldn’t foresee each step of this familiar ritual playing out again like some morbid version of Groundhog Day, you probably knew how some people would react. You remember spending half of your lunch break sending frustrated responses to strangers on social media the last time. You expected the old tropes of black on black crime, “we don’t know what happened before the recording,” and “All Lives Matter” to ooze out of uninformed mouths and be pecked onto mobile devices by the willfully ignorant. You couldn’t help but click on the comments section of that newspaper article, even though you knew it would be lousy with racist trolls.

You were not surprised.

You know that even with a black president who will send his condolences, a black attorney general who will lead an investigation, two body cameras that should have recorded every second of Alton’s execution, cell phone cameras that recorded most of it, eyewitnesses that saw all of it, and just plain common sense, that the chances of anyone standing trial, let alone being convicted of this injustice, are next to nothing.

You know.

You know that this will happen again. You know that it will happen soon. You know that we will boil over with righteous anger and take to the streets. You know that we will again remind cities around the country the difference between property insurance and life insurance. You know that neither great speeches nor meaningless blog posts will stop this from happening again.

Yet, you care.

You march anyway. You organize. You raise your voice. You vote. You tweet. You fight. You argue. You obsess. You trigger yourself. You don’t turn away. You cry. You embrace. You love.

Even in the face of hopelessness, you get up again and again, not knowing if this fight will ever end. Not knowing if your name is the next to be screen-printed onto t-shirts or hashtagged onto social media. You do it anyway, because you know that you could be the person to make things different. You do it because you know that, as Jesse Williams phrased it, “[a] system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.”

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