Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

How many unarmed people have to die?

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: I'm tired of seeing African-Americans die as innocent, unarmed shooting victims
  • He says we've had enough of saying race isn't a factor and of ignoring racial disparities
  • Granderson: It's too easy for people to become apathetic and accept injustice
  • LZ: I'm tired of parents weeping for children who did not have to die

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and a lecturer at Northwestern University. He is a former Hechinger Institute fellow and his commentary has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- I am tired.

Tired of our streets being peppered with dead, unarmed black people. Tired of listening to armed assailants describe how they feared for their lives. Tired of being told "this has nothing to do with race."

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

I am tired of having to march to have murderers arrested. Tired of worrying about my 17-year-old being gunned down by some random white guy who thinks his music is too loud. Tired of knowing the same could happen to me.

I am tired of seeing a hashtag in front of a victim's name on Twitter. Tired of seeing Al Sharpton speak on behalf of a family. Tired of waiting for verdicts and hoping for justice --as if hearing "guilty" can ease the anxiety of knowing a police officer shot and killed a 22-year-old black man while he was lying face down and with his hands behind his back.

Michael Brown's friend describes shooting
Outrage in Missouri after death of teen
Mom: 'You took my son away from me'

I'm tired of the cynics who are quick to extend the benefit of the doubt to a gunman but hesitant to do the same for an unarmed teenage girl who had been shot in the face. I am tired of seeing images of police officers with snarling dogs threatening a crowd of black protesters and not knowing if it's from the 1960s or last week.

In the case of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, it's the latter. Witnesses said he was shot multiple times from 35 feet away after his hands were raised. Again, he was unarmed.

I am tired of the U.S. Department of Justice having to closely watch local authorities. I am tired of local authorities advocating for Stop and Frisk one minute and dismissing the notion of racial profiling the next. I am tired of the charlatans who chase the bodies of innocent victims the way sleazy lawyers chase ambulances. I hate black looters at peaceful rallies the way I hate the KKK.

I don't want to get shot by a police officer.

I'm tired of unarmed dead black people being put on trial.
LZ Granderson

And I'm tired of thinking that each time one walks by.

I don't begrudge anyone who has the luxury of not knowing what that kind of siege feels like. I just hope they have the decency not to characterize the socioeconomic disparity along racial lines as a card to be played but rather recognize it as a looming element of our cultural fiber.

For example, from 1934 to 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. Because of an appraisal system that deemed integrated communities financial risks, less than 2% of those loans went to minorities.

When you consider that home ownership has long been the prerequisite for the average American to acquire wealth, there is little wonder why white Americans have 22 times more wealth than blacks. That is not a card being played. That is math. And I'm tired of having to explain that.

Just as I'm tired of watching the video of Eric Garner being placed in a chokehold by NYPD, listening to him say "I can't breathe, I can't breathe" and then watching him die minutes later.

But I need to keep watching because apathy is a clever hunter. It cloaks itself with FBI statistics and slips into the system between runs to Starbucks. Then one day as you're sipping your grande decaf mocha, you see a headline about an unarmed black man being shot and killed by police and think nothing of it.

Or worse yet -- assume he did something to deserve it.

I'm tired of unarmed dead black people being put on trial. I'm tired of politicians visiting our churches for votes but skipping out on these funerals

I'm tired of hearing mothers and fathers weep for children who did not have to die.

But most of all I'm tired of the people who are not tired like me.

Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
updated 5:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
updated 7:12 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT