Within a span of 48 hours in July, two black men were killed by the police in two separate incidents, both caught in gruesome detail on camera.
Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was selling CDs outside a convenience store — where he has been a friendly fixture for years — when two policemen pinned him onto the ground and put multiple bullets through his body. At 37, he was the father of five children.
Before the country had even begun coming to terms with Sterling's death, a Minnesota police officer fatally shot Philando Castile as he reached for his wallet to present his ID one day later. Castile was pulled over for a broken taillight and reportedly informed the cop that he was licensed to carry and had a firearm on him before reaching for his wallet. The officer shot Castile four times with his 4-year-old daughter still in the backseat. Castile was 32.
Sterling and Castile's deaths have sparked outrage across the country. People mourned the unconscionable loss of yet another member of the black community at the hands of law enforcement, and impassioned cries for change and justice rang from all corners of America.
Conversations about race can be thorny. Occasionally awkward, often downright exasperating, racial issues are a contentious, difficult topic to talk about. And many people don't.
In a series of tweets, Haynes, who is black, recalled overhearing a white family's (non-)conversation at a restaurant about the police force's systemic targeting of black people. Although his story is still to be confirmed by media outlets, it highlights a very real and endemic problem in how we talk (and don't talk) about police violence.
The radio host says that although the family's son was disturbed by news coverage of Castile's death, the mother and father seemed to feel it was too awkward to engage with his questions. To address his concerns.
So Haynes stepped up to the plate.