Black Community: Disposable.

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(  DISPOSE – the root word of the word disposable makes it one of the simplest of words to understand.  It suggests to all that something has reached the end of its usefulness and should/will/must be discarded or eliminated.

I began taking a harder, deeper look at the word “disposable” when cloth diapers were replaced by disposable diapers.  I think that folks in, and preceding, my generation were accustomed to “durable goods” which would have a lengthy, useful service life.  So often at the end of the original service life of these “durable goods,” they were re-purposed for additional utility.  The aforementioned diapers often served two or more infants consecutively.  Some remember, when they were no longer fit for infant use, old diapers (cleaned and washed) were found as rags used for washing cars, dusting, or other down-to-earth purposes. That was then!

Black Community - Disposable.

Nowadays there are far fewer “durable goods.”  “Useful service-life” has gone the way of “durable goods” and is, if at all, marginally applicable in the contemporary lexicon.

The one undesirable application of the term disposable is as it is currently applied to African Americans.  As we see increasing incidents of acts of genocide against African Americans, we can only infer that perpetrators of this genocide view us as “disposable.”  Certain names bring this brutal reality into focus.  Floyd, Bland, Taylor, Brown, Till, and a myriad of other decedents illustrate my point.

Recently, at Tyson’s Corner, a Northern Virginia shopping center 14 driving miles from Washington, DC, a young Black man was shot to death.  According to WTOP, a local news radio, website:

Police in Fairfax County, Virginia shot and killed a man who they said was suspected of stealing from a store in Tyson’s Corner Center. Police did not say whether the man was armed.

Fairfax County Police Chief Davis said the alleged theft happened inside the mall. The man ran from the police into a small, heavily wooded area nearby the shopping center. A uniformed officer and a plainclothes officer gave chase, and Davis said police issued commands. At some point during that chase, the two officers discharged their firearms but Davis did not say what caused them to shoot.That man was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead. No officers were hurt, Fairfax County police said.

That man, unarmed 37-year-old Timothy Johnson, was suspected of shoplifting a pair of sunglasses. According to Washington’s NBC4, after viewing the eight-minute body-camera video, Johnson’s mother, Melissa Johnson, said, “No parent, no parents should have to view the killing of their child and then be asked to give remarks.” She added, “The only thing they knew was that he was black and male and had allegedly triggered an alarm at a store for some sunglasses.  Was shoplifting right? Absolutely not. But we have laws in place to address shoplifting.  Should my son have been murdered because he shoplifted from the mall?”

Ms. Johnson asks a valid question.  Stated differently, is shoplifting a capital crime?  Should we continue to lose lives at the hands of individuals who, arguably, perceive us as “disposable?”  Sergeant Wesley Shifflett, a seven-year veteran has been terminated for a “failure to live up to the expectations of a particular use of force policies, protocols, and procedure.”

As African Americans, we must also focus on our collective disposal.  I recently read a social media meme by Milan Kundera which states the obvious:

“To liquidate people, you start by depriving them of their memory.  They destroy your books, your culture, and your history.  And someone else writes other books, gives them another culture, and invents another story; after that, people slowly begin to forget what they are and what they were.  And the world around you forgets even faster.”  Familiar?

Written By Dr. E. Faye Williams

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