Seeking an Explanation for this Week's Shootings? Look to Physics

The last week have certainly been tragic for all parties involved. The senseless slaying of civilians and officers of the peace is among one of the darkest moments in modern American history. They seem inexplicable. However, if you are struggling - like most of us are - to understand how events of the past few days, just look to physics. Sir Isaac Newton's scientific philosophy perfectly explains how the universe - and every object in it - functions.

 

Newton's first law states that if an object is in motion, it will continue to be in motion unless an opposing external force is exerted on it. You can apply this a number of ways. First, the continuous murder of unarmed minorities in police custody set off a chain of events that can only be stopped by an external opposing force. Second, the minority community has progressed over the years, however a systemic institutionally-imposed force constantly works to stop that momentum. These measures have been discussed ad nauseum, however, in case you have been living under a rock for the past few centuries, see slavery, Jim Crown segregation, the civil rights movement, COINTELPRO, so on, and so forth. 

 

Newton's second law states that an object motion can be accelerated by outside forces. The level of force an object exerts is dependent on its mass and acceleration, (F = m x a). Let's look at these individually first, then in conjuction with one another. The first of the two elements that determines an objects force is the mass. Many confuse mass with weight, but as we learned in high school, the two are not the same. Knowing an object's mass is understanding property of matter that measures it's resistance to acceleration. An accelerant by definition is anything that speeds up a process. It is also something that is used to increase the spread of fires. In this instance, both definitions are applicable.

The black community is naturally resilient; that is evident in our ongoing and ceaseless struggle. Resistance is innate for us. We, as a community, have accumulated a great deal of mass over the ages, and that measure increases as time goes on. The accelerant in this instance is the redundancy in observed cases of police brutality disproportionately impacting people of color. The numbers back it up as does history. Since the creation of television, there has been a documented record of a culture of hostility and undue force exerted on communities of color by forces that are far from representative of the communities they are charged to protect (read: police).

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From Bloody Sunday to Rodney King, we know the potential ramifications of police brutality all to well, and for centuries, most of the victims remained nameless. Not everyone was Congressman John Lewis - who had his skull cracked by a police baton in Selma. Now, we have cell phones, social media, and hashtags to help us keep tally. Mike Brown was an accelerant, as was Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, and countless others. Acceleration is an additive property. Every name scribed into history sparks a new flame and pushes an already resistant body to the max. This week, more names were added to the list, increasing the force exerted on people of color. Mass multiplied by acceleration equals force. Both are equally dependent on each other, if the black community had not accumulated such mass through our trials, or had there not been so many instances of gas being poured on the flames, the force would not be so great. But we have,  there are, and it is.

Sir Newton's third law is simple: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We have witnessed this in live an in action over the past several years. Protests have become reruns, as have inactivity on the part of the justice system. The problem is, officials expect and hope for reactions to be the same in each case. However, we know that not to be the case at all. Reactions happen in varying degrees on both ends. From burning neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Ferguson to peaceful marches across the country. From being met with militarized police shooting tear gas, water hoses and rubber bullets in Selma and Ferguson,  to joining hands with protesters and facilitating rallies. Actions and reactions. However, actions and reactions are unpredictable by nature. The shooting in Dallas - just like the peaceful March that preceded the tragic event - was a reaction to an action that nobody but the shooter saw coming.

 

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Except we all saw it coming, didn't we? Eventually? You could feel it... literally feel it... physically feel it. Its what happens when force is met with opposition. Pressure builds, and pressure bursts pipes. The repetitive cycle of brutality, coupled with a distrust in the justice system and government officials to remedy the situations, built a mass feeling of despair, helplessness, and hopelessness fueled by outrage, anger, and disbelief. That feeling that engulfs every person of color can only be described as pressure. It's the lump in your throat you felt when watching Alton Sterling's son break down in the press conference. It's the emptiness you felt as Philando Castile's girlfriend prayed over his body as he bled out in front of her and her four year old daughter's eyes. It is the clinch in your teeth and the balled fist that follows every failed indictment and acquittal. It is the ringing in your ears every time an outsider offers up a half asked remedy that usually evolves succumbing to your oppression. It is THAT pressure. And for the past half decade, since the killing of Trayvon Martin, that pressure has constantly been accumulating. And pressure bursts pipes.

Officials know the laws of physics are working as well. They understand the pressure is mounting. It's why the met peaceful protest in Ferguson with riot gear, tanks and swat teams from across the state. It's why the city of Cincinnati solicited aid from every officer within a 100 mile radius hours prior to releasing the body camera footage of a man being shot in the head at a routine traffic stop. And it is why media outlets rush to embed Don Lemon and all of his discomfort in the middle of the black community each time another hashtag is added to the scoreboard. Each dead body sparks fear of Los Angeles,  it just hasn't happened yet. Although, they anticipate it will. 

 

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In physics, that pressure is called potential energy. One law of physics states energy is neither created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed front one form to another. The pressure that people of color feel did not just come out of thin air, and it will not dissipate into nothingness. At some point, that potential energy will be forced to convert itself. It is the bursting of the pipe. The way to avoid another Dallas is not for officials to sit on their hands and hope it goes away. It's not to call for peace and hope for the best. And, it is definitely not to fight fire with fire - remember, actions and reactions . The only way to relieve the pressure is to change the culture, implement substantive policy change, and promote accountability over the blue wall of silence. Without this, another Dallas, or worse, is not just probable. Physics guarantees it.

Embracing Abigail?: How Fisher v. UT Highlights a Culture of Delusion and Self-Victimization Among White America

Embracing Abigail?: How Fisher v. UT Highlights a Culture of Delusion and Self-Victimization Among White America

Abigail Fisher will never know what it's like to not be accepted for no other reason than the color of her skin. She will never be followed around in a Dillard's by sales associates. She will not have to worry about if her name was the reason she didn't get that job that she was hoping for. Most importantly, she will never fear for her life the next time she is stopped for a moving violation in her suburban home. Abigail Fisher graduated with an degree from Louisiana State University and has a plush job as a business analyst. Her skin color will never be her handicap. 

(Re)Birth

(Re)Birth

"Son, you can't do what they do."

The first time I heard this phrase from my grandfather was in response to the confusion I expressed at being suspended from school for "attacking" one of my classmates. In actuality what was deemed an attack was a fight that my white classmate started. 

Take Notes: 3 Lessons the #BlackLivesMatter Movement Can Learn From Mizzou

Take Notes: 3 Lessons the #BlackLivesMatter Movement Can Learn From Mizzou

For over a year now, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been in the forefront of minority activism in America. It has become synonymous with the African American struggle  for equality in the justice and the fight against institutional racism. Even with all of the progress that has been achieved in such a relatively short span, #BlackLivesMatter still has areas where drastic amounts of improvement need to be made in order to maximize the organizations potential. 

The Irony of All: A Historical Perspective on Why the "All" in #AllLivesMatter Was Never Intended To Include Blacks

The Irony of All: A Historical Perspective on Why the "All" in #AllLivesMatter Was Never Intended To Include Blacks

Why the immediate objection to the use of "All Lives Matter" as a viable replacement? It would seem that a term that would promote equality for every breathing body would be received with open arms, however after an evaluation of the historical use of "all" in America, its easy to see how the implication that "all" will ever be considered an inclusive term is taken with a grain of salt.

10 Years After Katrina: A Decade of Events That Reminds Us America Still Doesn't Care About Black People

10 Years After Katrina: A Decade of Events That Reminds Us America Still Doesn't Care About Black People

10 years ago we witnessed the darkest moment in US History. While estimates from varying sources claim that more than 1,800 lives were lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the actual tally has never been calculated. What may be more problematic than the sheer number of lives lost in the Crescent City, is the neglect shown to the residents of the city, prompting one Kanye West to make one of the most damning, yet profoundly evident statements in televised history. 10 years later, America is still failing to dispel that very statement, and somehow, the nation finds a way to remind us that America "doesn't care about black people."

The #SamDubose Video Obliterates Every Critique of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

The #SamDubose Video Obliterates Every Critique of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

With each instance of an unarmed African American citizen being gunned down in cold blood, rather than attempting to solve the matter that is continuously plaguing our society, rather than proposing substantive change that will eliminate the possibility of another one  of our brothers and sisters being relegated to a hashtag, members of social and television media have, instead, found ways to not only excuse the inexcusable actions of these officers, but also have managed to suggest that the actions of these victims actually, in some twisted way, justify them losing their lives.

7 Ways Every Black Parents Can Counter States' Rewriting of American History

7 Ways Every Black Parents Can Counter States' Rewriting of American History

One "war on American values" that you won't find Republicans declaring is the "War on Education" that has quietly been waged right here, in our own country, for nearly two decades. Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of the Black parent in America to pull back the curtain on the facade of an education that their children are receiving in many states across the country.

Oppression's Babies are Today's Old Bigots

Oppression's Babies are Today's Old Bigots

Regardless if they were bystanders to racial epithets being hurled at students seeking equality on public transportation, or on the front lines with white parents challenging the quest for educational inclusiveness, these children absorbed every ounce of negative energy emitted from this repulsive era in American history. What may be even more disturbing is that that generation of oppression's babies has turned into today's old bigots.