The Black List: Shootings, Blood Pressure and Six Degrees of Separation

“Are you sure?”  You know you’re in trouble when your blood pressure aps questions your entry of 167/90¹. I’m a little over 5’6”, I weigh 118 pounds, I walk over 20 miles a week and spend about 6 hours in that same week doing yoga. Why so high? I’ve been black most of my life.  Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman, was shot in her home while peering out of a window. Her neighbor called a non-emergency number for a wellness check because he saw 2 doors open. For a wellness check, the police go to a residence, knock on the door and make sure everything is ok. While both doors were open, it is important to note, the screen doors, were closed; it’s a way to get ventilation on hot nights. For reasons that I suspect will come out in the trial, the policeman was in the backyard looking around which prompted Ms Jefferson, hearing a sound, to look out. The police yelled, hands up and shot. She died. I was stunned when I heard the newslast Saturday morning.
Friday evening when I returned home from the symphony, I painted some furniture. I left both of my balcony doors open for ventilation. I’d walked to the performance and my neighbors,who also attended, insisted it was late and I should ride home with them. I could easily imagine one of them could have called the police for a wellness check if they saw my two balcony doors open in the middle of the night. So yes, my blood pressure was 167/90 Saturday morning.
Botham Jean, a black man, was shot by a police officer who entered the wrong apartment. Please don’t try to guiltsplain. Sit with my discomfort for a moment. Amber Guyger, who killed Botham Jean is 31 years old and was on the police force for almost 5 years. Aaron Dean, who shot Atatiana Jefferson, is 35 and was on the police force for a year and a half. Philando Castile did everything I was ever taught to do, narrated his motions, moved slowly and was shot and killed in from of his 4 year old daughter. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez was 28 at the time and was on the police force 4 years. These are relatively young people, they came of age during the misnomered, post racial America, Obama is president era. They represent  a disturbing trend of shooting innocent black people. The “training” to address unconscious racism and bias is not working. The training to avoid confrontation is not working.
Law enforcement officers in the United States killed more than 1100 people in 2018, according to the Mapping Police Violence Project. Twenty-five percent of those killed were black, despite black people making up only 13 percent of the population.²

Demanding for gun control because of mass shooting? Consider this, 373 people were killed in mass shootings in the  US in 2018. The chances of being killed by a mass shooter are 1 in 876,675. The chances of being shot by the police if you are an  African American are 1 in 152,727. My chances of being shot a policeman are 6 times³ higher than my chances of being shot by a mass shooter.  We have training, drills and rules in the workplace to deal with an active shooter. To deal with police, I got nothing.

Respectfully, the police have a tough job and the vitriol towards them is unconscionable. I harbor no animosity towards law enforcement. I am relatively small, I’m a little over 5’6”, I weigh 118 pounds, and yet, I  anything I do could be perceived as a threat by police, because I have been black for most of my life. I struggle because there seems to be little alarm outside the community that this is a problem, so yes, I get an erratic reading of 167/90 because like my blood pressure this is not good. This is not normal.




¹A few hours later I was done to a more reasonable 122/73


³there are other statistical factors that can be considered whenever doing predictive and probability analysis

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