Several years ago, a friend said to me, “Everybody that’s your skin folks is not your kin folks."
They were right. And nothing became clearer to me than when I saw professional basketball greats, Charles Barkley and Shaquille ‘O’Neal side with the prosecutor in the Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, Ky., a few days ago.
I had the opportunity to sit on the grand jury a few years ago and I was shocked to learn how easy it is for a prosecutor to convince people that a defendant should be handed over for trial, especially a Black man. I was the only one who bothered to ask questions. Everybody else simply went along with whatever the prosecutor wanted. Yes, there were other Blacks in the room, but they said nothing. Everybody that is your skin folks is not your kin folks.
As I listened to the basketball greats, it was obvious to me that they were not a part of the people in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955 who walked for 381 days in the sunshine and the rain until the buses were desegregated They were not in Birmingham in 1963 when Eugene “Bull” Connor was turned into a steer, and the walls of segregation in public accusations came tumbling down.
They were not in Selma, Ala., when John Lewis and Hosea Williams led hundreds of people across the Edmund Pettis bridge and into a sea of state troopers and were beaten back to Brown Chapel Church.
The professional basketball players were not on the lonely highway in Mississippi when Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and others joined their friend, James Meredith, in his walk against fear and was shot down. They were obviously not in Minneapolis this year when a white police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, as he called for his dead mother
They were obviously not in Memphis, Tenn., when several garbage workers told Mayor Loeb that they were men, and only wanted a decent wage. They were making only 75 cents an hour and could not take care of their families.
They were not in Money, Miss., in 1955 when 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered and his body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River with a 200-pound gin fan around his neck, and his mother demanded that his coffin remain open in Chicago so that the world could see what they did to her boy.
The professional basketball players were obviously not in Memphis in 1968 when Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, and thousands of his followers rebelled in the streets.
They were not in Sanford, Fla., when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, when George Zimmermann was told to stay in his car, but he followed Trayvon, who was unarmed, walking in his father’s neighborhood, then shot and killed him, claiming it was self-defense. Your skin folks are not always your kin folks.
I am the son of slaves. Therefore, my skin folks will forever be my kin folks.
Floyd Rose is senior servant of Serenity Church.