As a searing pain shot through my skull, I contemplated putting my health first by heading home early but my blackness stopped me. If you’re wondering what that means I’ll tell you.
Moments after I swallowed two enormous pain pills that got stuck in my chest, which is still not healed from surgery two months ago, I heard whispers about news from the Eric Garner grand jury. It only took seconds for me to look around and notice there was only one other black news writer/producer in house; that meant, if I left and she went home at her pre-determined time, there would be no one who looked like me to chronicle such an important, volatile decision.
Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have faith in my colleagues, the majority of which are white men, to give a relatively balanced account of the day’s events. Yet, I feel a special obligation to at least be present, if for nothing else, than to witness history being written first hand.
Now, there were also a number of African-American reporters and camera people in the field gathering reaction. Still, in my capacity, I’m the final stop gap before a story is broadcast. I select last minute sound, quotes from statements, as well as the video that covers the reporter tracks; to me, those tasks are essential to crafting a message.
Ordinarily, I’m not singled out for my opinion, as it pertains to racial issues, unless I choose to speak up. Yet, I know the value of just being in the room so I pushed pass my pain and listened to a stream of people pontificate about the relationship between police forces nationwide and communities of color.
I’d written numerous stories about Sean Bell, D.J. Henry, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurney, Michael Brown, etc… And their deadly run-ins with cops. I’d also covered other racially charged cases over the years but the Garner case resonate with me because, like so many other Americans, I’m tired of deadly forces being excused. No apology or expression of sympathy can do anything to soothe inconsolable pain or fill the gap left by someone’s absence.
I’m tired of accepting that a bullet is the only way to maintain law and order, especially in poorer communities. I’m weary of hearing no one is responsible for their actions even when it’s outsider the realm of what a reasonable person or officer would take. I’m distressed knowing that race relations may appear on the surface to have improved but, in fact, are constantly on the verge of degrading into a climate of distrust, dislike, and destruction.
I’m equally distressed that violence perpetrated as retaliation for the outcome of these deaths are tolerated instead of discouraged. I’m distraught that positive discourse is replaced be demeaning names, inflammatory statements and disillusionment with the people sworn to serve and protect.
All of these feelings are why, despite my fatigue and increasing discomfort, I stayed at work to oversee how the history of this decision, the Eric Garner grand jury’s decision, and so many others are relayed to the world. It’s my constant mission to try to provide accurate, articulate information so informed views about issues, people, places and events can be made by everyone, regardless of race.
About the Author:
Nika C. Beamon is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House. In 2009, her first non-fiction book, I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married: Successful, Single Black Women Speak Out was published by Chicago Review Press. She’s also the author of two mystery novels.
#EricGarner #Ferguson #IllnessWontStopMe #RaceRelations