This Response To Alton Sterling's Death Is The One You Need To Read
The black community is mourning the death of one of its own on Wednesday, after news broke about the officer-involved shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The national debate around police brutality and racist targeting has flared once again in the wake of the incident, but one Twitter user reminded the world that not everyone is ready for the discussion yet. A series of tweets by Brittany Packnett tells people how to live in solidarity with the black community after Sterling's tragic death.
Packnett took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to express her grief about Sterling's death with an important message for those outside the black community. "White folks need to help other white folks understand the pain today. It's not our burden. We are in mourning. #AltonSterling," Packnett tweeted. She continued with over two dozen more tweets revealing her anger and sadness, beautifully expressing the pain of seeing another black man killed by those who were supposed to protect him.
The powerful statement is a wakeup call for anyone who criticizes the black community in the wake of a shooting and eloquently reminds people that all black people suffered a loss from Alton Sterling's death, even if they didn't know him. They are mourning a loss of a fellow oppressed citizen, the loss of a father, and the loss of a little more of their feeling of personal safety. It is everyone else's responsibility to let the black community mourn in whatever way necessary after an event like this, and the last thing they need is to have to defend Sterling from attacks on his character.
Packnett is the executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis and a former congressional staffer. A longtime community activist, Packnett serves on the Ferguson Commission, a group of community leaders in the greater St. Louis area who are finding to solutions to the problems within the community that led to the riots following the death of Michael Brown in 2014.
Packnett was also selected by President Obama to serve on the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which is working to "strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve." Her local and national level activism puts her in a unique position to fully understand the problem of police brutality, so it's no surprise that her words are so powerful and heartbreaking.
Packnett's beautiful and painful words are a message for all — black people who are struggling to understand their own grief, people who are trying to live in solidarity with the black community, and those who haven't yet come to understand the black perspective on police brutality. Going forward, everyone can remember that the black community really deserves proper time to grieve a loss like this, and that in order to truly be allies, everyone must give them unlimited support and care.