Black Lives Matter.
Yes, of course all lives matter, but for some reason the lives of people of color don’t seem to be treated as equally as our other fair skinned brothers’ and sisters’.
So, more often than not, it needs to be expressed. Black lives should not be reduced down to hashtags on Twitter and posters because they were wrongfully killed.
I am scared. I am angry. My heart and mind are tired.
The deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were, to be straightforward, wrong. This does not mean that I was surprised.
I mean, so many black men have been killed by police that it was really just a matter of time before the next case occurred, right?
What kind of thinking is this, though? A person should never become numb to senseless killing of innocent people. The desensitization has altered my thought process about the sheer number of situations like the ones that have occurred in the past.
However, something about the recent cases affected me more deeply than the others. For lack of better words, it broke my heart. The videos circulating throughout the Internet of these men being shot and watching them die on camera is breathtaking, in the worst way.
I have seen accusatory questions on Facebook like “Well, what did they do for this to happen?” “Why weren’t they cooperating with the police?” “Why did he have a gun anyway?”
I held my tongue, and eventually logged out of Facebook because the comments I saw genuinely brought me to tears.
For a moment, I thought about it. What exactly did these men do to deserve to die? Surely, selling CDs or driving with a broken tail light does not deserve death.
So what was it?
Let me break it down: The United States of America has a problem with racism, and we need to address it now, before another innocent person is shot to death.
Before I lose you, let me explain further.
Our country is no stranger to violence. It is unfortunately one of the things we are known for. We live in country where schools, theaters and churches are free game shooting ranges. For that matter, so is the African American community.
Many innocent lives have been taken, and for what?
Place yourself in Castile’s shoes for a moment. If you are in a car, riding home from getting groceries and are pulled over, but aren’t sure why, how would you react?
Now put yourself his fiancee’s position: Your spouse, who is not only complying with police, but also informs them that he has a license to carry, reaches for his wallet because the officer wants his license and registration and is shot four times in front of you and your daughter. How would you feel?
Or, how about Sterling’s case? Let’s say you’re the one being tackled to the ground, restrained and shot at point blank range. Imagine the seconds of fear before death of knowing that you will never see your family again.
For those who say, “Well if they had complied with police then they would still be here.” Answer this for me, please. What did these men do wrong here? Is compliance not enough? If you would argue that they had past offenses, what difference does that make in these moments, when they were living their lives legally?
The U.S. is a first world country. We have some of the best places to live, and so many opportunities here, but no place is perfect.
We need to come together and stop the violence. Stop the killings of innocent people.
I need to address law enforcement. Police officers have very important jobs. Their duty is to serve and protect, and I commend all who do so. Not every cop is crooked, just like every black man isn’t a thug.
I am truly saddened to admit, but I am afraid of the police. Anytime I interact with them I become uneasy. I know that when they are near, they are meant to protect, and thus I should be at ease.
But I am not. I hope to one day say otherwise.
I don’t condone fighting violence with violence either. Black on black crime is a huge issue that needs to be addressed as well. We want equality and respect from others, but cannot even give it to ourselves. Brothers and sisters, I say to you, put the guns down. Please.
I also need to touch on the protesting that went on in Texas. I overheard conversations in which people said protesters should protest in places that don’t affect anyone’s day. This amazed me, considering that protests by definition are to express disapproval to something a person is powerless against. It’s civil disobedience.
Wanting protesters to keep out of the way is essentially saying that they’re a nuisance and that what they’re fighting for is of no importance, that police brutality is not that serious. This is not only offensive, but it also shows our lack of importance, thus needing to emphasize that Black Lives Matter.
Peaceful protesting is fine. In fact it is a constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
However, the violence that ensued was not acceptable. The officers in Dallas who lost their lives had families, just like the black men who were killed by officers in other cities. None of them deserved that fate.
Further division of the people in our nation is not what we need.
We need understanding. We need an open dialogue. We need those who hate others because of the color of their skin and not the content of their character to realize that this way of thinking is toxic–and dangerous.
We need our justice system to hold the officers who wrongly shoot citizens accountable, as they would if such shootings were done by another everyday person.
We cannot move forward until changes are made. We need all those who say all lives matter to realize this includes black lives, and to stand as our allies.
Stand with us to eradicate the racism that is plaguing us as a nation. Do not do so with violence, but with patience, understanding, and with educated, articulate conversations.
Do it realizing that the Black Lives Matter movement does not mean no one else’s life matters, but it stands as a reminder, because time and time again, situations have occurred in which that statement has been questioned.
We want justice. We want peace. It’s not too much to ask.