When It Comes To Life and Death Scenarios, Black Lives Are Expendable
The hostility in the air is overpowering. You can feel it all around you, and you can see it with streams of videos that are uploading as we speak. They showcase White America’s favorite past time, the indulgence of cat and mouse games that end with banishment or death.
Black lives don’t matter in America, and yet our White supremacist president and his henchmen demand respect for the national anthem, based on the betrayal of patriotism, that instituted the law that makes it perfectly legal to torment Black people into submission.
The astoundingly offensive footage that depicts Black lives being reduced to gravel by an energized White population, that depends on our shame and pain for livelihood and stability has now become the cinema of our existence.
The crippling reality of how we can easily scroll past the evidence that vanquished the souls of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and so many others, and still have the audacity to welcome another day of hell — is the testimony of our lives.
The system welcomes the assignment of hunting down its prey and gathering the rabid gawkers, equipped with lightened devices that are ready to portray the rebooted version of Black America’s celebrated decay.
And now domestic terrorism has become the language of death for women like me, who can’t even switch trains in broad daylight without the fear of being sliced to bits.
And then we have the matter of life and death, and how those scenarios eerily play out with gross negligence that’s shielded under the banner of hate.
Law enforcement is committed to sweeping the streets with the red from our veins, and the splatter of our sweat that lines the collars of shirts and bras, as the threat of our extinction gets close enough to allow us a sliver of the air that evacuates with each shot.
And the tradition spreads into the rulebook of every facet that prides itself with the dignified and selfless duty of lifesaving measures, that are only meant to protect the privilege of Whiteness, while those who don’t apply perish under the codes that instruct such tyranny.
When the news broke about the young Black mother in Florida, Crystle Galloway, who tragically died after four paramedics refused to transport her to the hospital, when it was established that the cost of transport couldn’t be covered — there was a hole in my heart, as I contemplated how the story would’ve been different if race hadn’t played the role of grim reaper.
Back in 2009, another young mother Eutisha Rennix, who was three months away from delivering her second child, was also rejected the option of lifesaving procedures when she collapsed in the restroom of the popular eatery, Au Bon Pain where she worked as a cashier. Her co-workers scrambled to revive her, while begging the two New York EMT workers, eating their breakfast, to do their job.
Unfortunately, Rennix who was suffered form asthma didn’t have a chance in hell of surviving her ordeal, as the EMT workers callously refused to attend to the pregnant Black woman in distress, and instead made sure to recommend that the frazzled co-workers and customers call 9–1–1, as they casually made their exit.
The 9–1–1 call was placed, but the confusion with accurately classifying the level of priority, combined with the complication of having to place an additional call for help, ate up valuable time that should’ve been spent working on a woman who was literally at death’s door.
The paramedics arrived just in time to pronounce Rennix dead.
The fire department suspended the two EMTs from the Long Island College Hospital, even though the hospital’s spokeswoman publicly praised the efforts of the workers, after “a careful and thorough internal review” concluded that “they both did all they could to save the life of the patient and the baby.”
Mayor Bloomberg vehemently disagreed with the spokesperson’s assessment, and described the lack of empathy by the EMT workers as “unconscionable,” and chided them for the gross inaction that isn’t typical of people in their line of work.
“Somebody is dying down the street and (people) say help them and they just sat there.”
It’s hard to imagine this scene playing out with a young pregnant White woman, who falls to the ground and lays there helplessly as the crowd gathers to save her. It’s impossible to entertain the vision of two EMT workers ignoring the emergency in front of them, as they shout out instructions to call 9–1–1 while making zero attempt to examine the patient.
The argument of not having the appropriate equipment doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility of at least utilizing basic skills to investigate the nature of the situation, until the paramedics arrive, and then can give the pertinent updates that could improve the chances for a life to be saved.
This disturbing “trend” of viewing Black lives as worthless, to the point that it dictates whether we live or die in the hands of professionals, who are reluctant to do what it takes to ensure a positive outcome, has now become the legit method of killing us without consequences.
Almost a decade later, and we’re haunted by the echoes of Eutisha Rennix, through the recently departed spirit of Crystle Galloway, whose needless and senseless death exposes an even larger issue with the healthcare crisis in America.
The charges that can be incurred from an ambulance ride to the hospital can be life-altering for unassuming families, who are desperate to provide their loved ones with the right amount of care that emergency situations warrant. It’s public knowledge that a single ambulance ride can cost almost $4,000 — and that’s just for a short distance of about 4 miles.
Crystle’s mother, Nicole Black was concerned for her daughter, who had just given birth by C-Section, days before, and was now unconscious and drooling in the bathtub. She immediately called 9–1–1 and the dispatched paramedics arrived on the scene and began to tend to Crystle.
According to her mother, the subject of whether or not she could afford to pay for the services of transportation came up at the most inopportune time, which was both distressing and distracting, as it became clear, that the EMT workers were more concerned about wasting their time than saving the life of a non-responsive Black woman.
Black explains how no attempt was made to take her daughter’s vitals in order to determine how to stabilize her for the ride to the hospital. Instead, the focus was squarely on the charges for the ambulance ride, as she felt pressured into accepting the daunting task of driving her daughter to the ER in order to avoid the $600 bill for the journey to the hospital, that was about three blocks away.
By the time Black got her daughter to the ER, things went from very bad to a lot worse, as Crystle went into a coma that she never recovered from.
The medics have since been regulated to paid leave, pending an investigation that has so far revealed how the precious life of a new mother hung in the balance for a lot longer than necessary, and the reason has everything to do with race.
Hillsborough Country has mandated that the four paramedics face a disciplinary hearing based on the gross negligence of unprofessionalism, that was demonstrated through their unwillingness to provide adequate immediate care to a critical patient.
“The responders failed to take Galloway’s vitals at the scene, did not get a signature required to refuse ambulance service, and falsified their patient care report.”
At a press conference addressing the devastating event that led to Crystle Black’s death, County administrator Mike Merrill expanded on how the deadly decision to intimidate a bewildered mother into transporting her acutely sick daughter without following protocol — was a frighteningly reckless move.
“If the fire medics had taken the vitals… they would have concluded, as our medical director has, that this woman needed to be transported by EMS to the hospital.” “If it’s a culture of racism… that’s something that needs to be fixed or for the sake of good care for our community.”
The medics are unapologetic in their stance as they claim that while harassing Galloway’s mother over her financials, she abruptly left for the hospital, before they could get the required medical information.
Both these situations, involving Black women from modest backgrounds, with almost a decade separating their plight — seem to neatly fit into the narrative of how racially motivated crimes can be manifested in ways that leave already vulnerable targets — well-positioned for the attacks that ultimately kill them.
Black lives are expendable.
We have to be diligent about the spaces we occupy, in case the wrong motherfucker decides to fuck with us, and we can’t rely on the police for protection because in Trump’s America, Black and Brown America don’t deserve the privilege of humane treatment.
We have to be prepared for battle at every turn.
White people are permitted to curse us out on camera, as our children watch in horror. We have to contend with the brutality of White cops, who beat us senseless for reasons that don’t match the violence, and at the end of the assault, we get charged for the offense of surviving our captors.
We have to be at death’s door, pleading for mercy from paramedics, who aren’t receptive to our suffering, and prefer to do the bare minimum. Their contribution is simply to activate how Black lives can’t matter in a country that is accommodating the emergency of White America — pathetically dissolving under the rapidity of their “imminent extinction.”
The United States of America only recognizes one race, and the operational systems have all been coded and infused with the language of bigotry, that’s loudly and quietly harming people of color, as the criminals with blood on their hands are released to extended vacations.
There’s simply no justice for the dead or peace of mind for the weary.
These two women didn’t have to die. The others who resemble their template who also succumbed to the wounds of extreme hatred on the battlefield of White supremacy, didn’t have to “die while Black.”
Death is the language that is spoken when White people have the power to decide whether saving us is worth the risk, and evidently the odds are against us.
We’re simply expendable.