This post was inspired by Donald Glover’s “This is America” video. I caught myself watching the video and marveling about how creative and abstract Donald is: why he wear the pants with no shirt, why he shoot like that, ohhh so that’s why the white horse is there, why he shoot the choir, ohh that’s why he dancing like that (add in any other observations). I was so zealous to join the social media conversation with my hot takes and insightful wisdom on what I just watched, but I remembered I am on a social media hiatus! It was at this point that I put my phone down and knew I had to write. Not in my notepad app, but pick up a pen and paper and write. My cell phone (iPhone aka blue bubble gang) had enabled my quick trigger when it comes to processing information and providing output. Fella’s, your girl/ex ever tell you that you listen to respond and not to understand? Yeah, I had one of those moments. I was always looking for the next best thing on my phone; a thought provoking video is only going to last until the next Kanye tweet pops up on my phone, and that will only last until the next avengers movie trailer pops up on my YouTube notifications pushed to my phone, and that will only last until the next black man gets assaulted by the police which sadly will only last until the next celebrity giving head on camera comes out and I conveniently watch on my cell phone via worldstar.
The subject of my writing was very simple to conjure. I had actually started writing a letter to Desmond Marrow, an ex football player who was “arrested” on camera. This was a draft until today.
How are you? I want to give the cliché “Hope all is well,” but I think I already know that all is not well with you. So instead, I will say I support you bro. I don’t know you and I have never watched you play a down of football, but I gained connection to you through an online video where you were arrested. I cried with you as I watched; it was surreal because it felt like I was watching myself get triple teamed by officers. You ever see something unjust online and say to yourself “that could never be me?” It’s a sad way of thinking, but I usually will generalize people I see being taken advantage of as either too aggressive, weak, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am working to correct my way of thinking and when I saw your video, I thought to myself that could definitely by me. We are about the same height, age and complexion, and I probably would have acted the same way you acted while in handcuffs. “I’m not even doing nothing, I’m not even fighting back” were your words as you were slammed against a pickup truck and then slammed on the concrete by two officers who were later joined by a 3rd. The backstory on how you arrived here, to my knowledge involved coffee being thrown on your car and your ensued pursuit of that person to have a word with them. I probably would have done the same, at the least I would want to know why someone poured coffee on my vehicle.
Unfortunately the past 5 years or so have conditioned me to normalize black men being arrested on camera and I originally clicked your video thinking, “here goes another one.“ Click bait captions and capitalism in media outlets make stories of men like you a ploy to get the most views rather than educate the public and I apologize for feeding into that. As I mentioned earlier, I literally cried with you as I watched the video. I cried for you out of empathy and I assume you cried at that moment due to helplessness. If I am incorrect, please forgive me bro. I just look at your life and the things you had done up to that point to be an upstanding citizen and none of those factors could help you in that situation. You even yelled out to God saying, “Oh my God” as you lay curled up on the ground with your hands in cuffs and your pants halfway off. People were quick to liken your situation to Eric Garner as you too yelled out “I can’t breathe.” It’s almost like we want to play police brutality trivia and get rewarded in likes for creating parallels. I’m with you bro, if someone is choking me while handcuffed, I’ll yell out the same thing.
I also heard your wife left you some time after this event. I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes, but what I do know is that you are going through a lot as a black man. People are quick to say you were an ex-NFL player and should have money left over, or that the fame you received from your video should allow you to bounce back in life, but these are notions we cannot confirm with certainty. I am not here to judge your personal life, dig into your past tweets or ask about your finances. I just know my nephews, future sons, and friends could all be next as they fit the description. That is something that I can be certain of. You were accused of possibly having a gun and were thoroughly searched (I saw them going through your hooping shorts underneath your sweats) for this weapon. I don’t even know what size phone you have, but I have an iPhone 7 plus! These phones are getting larger and it seems the burden falls on us black men to prove they are not guns. I haven’t spoke on race in this entire letter, but I know you have seen more videos of black men accused of having a phone mistaken for a gun than other races.
This letter may not reach you, but I just want to play my part in the media and re-circulate your story. We get to move on from your video, but you don’t have the choice but to live on with the effects. I donated some money to your go fund me and if that money doesn’t go towards getting back on your feet, I don’t care. Just be there to raise your children and make them aware of what they are up against. Prayers and my $50 go out to you bro.
The link above is Desmond’s gofundme account and the post below is the footage of his arrest taken from his Instagram account.