This Is What It Feels Like To Join The Black Lives Matter Movement In Tulsa

by Ezekiel Wariboko

I find myself between the states of anger and disbelief.

I shift around the numbness of accepting that another unarmed black man has been gunned down, to the anger of the support the murderer is getting, to the disbelief that something like this could have happened a mere 90 miles from my home.

I grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma. It's a quiet place where you come to live if you are a doctor, business owner or want your children to go to good schools. Basically, it's a good place to grow -- which also happens to be the slogan of the town.

Over the past few years, police brutality has been on the rise. Seeing broken families grieve, seeing the targeted become the hunters in Dallas and seeing the nation that I grew up in become divided between black lives matter and all lives matter, has put my mind into overdrive. The only reasonable thing to do is to implode and restrict myself from the world around me.

There are two types of sympathy you feel: one for those far away from you. This is a sadness that you wish to take away, an anger against whoever caused the grief and the thought of, "thank God nothing like this will happen where I live."

The second type of sympathy you feel is when the grief happens in your back yard.

Tulsa is 90 miles away from me, and 72 miles from my school in Stillwater. This summer I was an intern strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tulsa. This recent murder has affected me on a cathartic level unlike the other distant murders.

I drove home from Tulsa every weekend and my car started having problems. That easily could have been me having a bullet rip through my flesh, taking away my life and all of my unaccomplished goals.

What would they say? "He was a drug addict, he was a thug listening to Rage Against the Machine and Dom Kennedy," or "He was a threat because he stands near 6 feet tall and weighs 235 pounds."

Then, the arguments on why I should have listened would come up, my history and why I deserved to die. I could have easily been another statistic. My brothers, parents and girlfriend would have had to defend my name against a world that views me as a threat.

In a twisted and morbid sense, I'm happy this shooting happened. I'm not happy about the death, but I'm happy that this will show that nobody is safe from bullets. Nobody, no matter where you live, can avoid fate.

Terence Crutcher and I are not very different. We are big, black men with beards, who often end up in predicaments we cannot control.

This unjust catastrophe hits hard, the wind leaves my stomach each time I think about that 90 miles, I could have met the same fate as Mr. Crutcher.

I am quiet and reserved about shootings and violence against and from police. Today I have chosen to break this silence.

1. Facts don't matter when someone is murdered.

Death is death, that's the only fact need to know. To educate and show younger inner city kids and black youth that no one is immune to police brutality is a lesson that needs to be taught. You're supposed to obey and follow orders, not "stay woke" and disrespect law enforcement.

2. Anyone who looks like me could have been on the news.

The words those who know me closely would say are "young, full of life, so much potential and a future world changer," but others would drag my name through the mud calling me "a thug, a threat, a drug addict and mentally ill."

In order for this to change, we must fix our image as black people. Our power is stronger together than it is separate. We must stay safe and look after one another.

In a time of injustice and the snatching of lives, please my brothers and sisters, stay safe.