By Ernesto Saavedra
“Hell no! The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe. That would have been the time for him to show some type of remorse or some type of care for another human beings life when he was screaming 11 times that he can’t breathe. So there’s nothing that him or his prayers or anything else that will make me feel any different. No I don’t accept his apology. No I can care less about his condolences. No, I can care less. He’s still working; he’s still feeding his kids and my husband is six feet under and I’m looking for a way to feed my kids now.”
—Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, when asked if she accepted New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo’s apology
The tide of emotions has risen, overflowing and spilling onto our individual and collective conscious. It is becoming more impossible to avoid. It has infiltrated our “bubbles.” Our places of comfort and escape we go to when we don’t want to “think,” feel uncomfortable and challenged. Some of us retreat to “reality” television shows, school, our work and our homes. More so, we escape behind our wealth and skin tones; in turn, using it to justify our individual actions and that of the system that keeps our way of living intact and we are unapologetic about it.
Just how Abraham Lincoln, “honest Abe,” was unapologetic about when, in 1862, he ordered the execution, by hanging, of 38 Dakota Sioux prisoners in Mankato, Minn. Most of those executed were holy men or political leaders of their camps. Coined as the Largest Mass Execution in U.S. History. Bill Clinton, and the Clintons in general, didn’t blink an eye as to how the North American Free Trade Agreement would further displace millions in Latino America and eventually around the world. Brisenia Flores, 9-years-old, and 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones became young victims of this racist colonial state, no apology. Darren Wilson was unapologetic about killing Mike Brown and would do it again if he had the chance. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer is unapologetic when he continues to terrorize Black and Brown folks, recently arresting more than 300 “gang members” to make the streets of Fresno safe for the holidays.
Well you know what, we don’t need or want your apologies.
The time for apologies is over. The pacification of the masses and playing on their fears needs to stop. Working within this system is not working, and there is a dire need for a new one. Shaking hands with the same people that are murdering our people in the streets is not working. We need to reclaim our spaces. We need to reclaim and refocus the narrative around our stories and struggles.
I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not downgrading the work that some of you may be doing, but there needs to be a radical shift in our culture and how we approach things. We need to “think differently” and beyond the social constructs we are confined in. Most of all, we need to call the system that manipulates our lives what it is, a system based on colonialism where the color of your skin literally gets you killed or saved.
There are a lot of tensions, but tension is good. Feeling uncomfortable, especially if your privileged life is on the line, is good. Whether you agree or disagree with the tactics of those in the streets resisting, keep in mind, even forest fires are good for forests.