Twenty-nine-year-old Tyre Nichols was beaten to death by five cops during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. The five cops are ALL BLACK. I sometimes use the expression in conversations, that black folks must stay on guard because there are “monsters” out there. The five cops involved in Tyre’s beating were from within the African American community. Five of them??! All black?! My mind was blown, and my heart shattered when I heard the news.
I know whatever hell most African Americans are experiencing related to the death of Tyre Nichols, the hell his family is in, particularly his mom (Mrs. RowVaughn Wells) is much, much worse. Tyre had a four-year-old son and was the youngest of four siblings. Mrs. Wells reportedly stated that “no mother should have to go through this.” And no mother should have to see another mother in so much pain and feel so powerless to stop it from happening to the next mother all while thinking silently “Am I the next mother?” I fit the profile: I’m black and I’m a mom. There are cops where I live. And they stop people. Yes, that could be me. It’s jarring to know the threshold is so low for us to end up dead or burying our child.
I have not watched the video; can’t make myself do it. Yet. I have seen the picture of Tyre in the hospital. His face is badly swollen, eyes shut, with tubes protruding from his body and blood covering his pillow. I never watch horror shows because of the abundance of anguished reactions, excessive blood, and gore. If I watch a movie and something happens unexpectedly which shows violence, I cover my eyes quickly like a four-year-old. I am always super vigilant about what I let seep into my spirit. Bloody and violent images throw off my equilibrium and upset my peace. But this is too important. I will not look away and neither should you.
Tyre’s beating isn’t “make believe.” I know without a doubt, not even having seen the actual video yet, that it is the worst horror show imaginable. The very detailed, chronological accounts of the beating that I have read sent me spiraling emotionally. People want to know “why”? What happened? There is no “why.” There is no answer. No suitable justification. And there never will be.
News reports say Tyre called out for his mom repeatedly. What sheer agony his mother must have felt upon hearing this. These brutal killings against African Americans by people who have taken an oath to protect and serve us is causing untold trauma which is changing the fabric of our DNA as a community. The horror show with evil cops as the main protagonist continues to be our lived reality; our part in the show never changes. No auditions needed. You just have to be black and alive at the time of shooting.