“I don’t know.”
Those are the words that, according to Charles Kinsey, were used by the police officer who shot him. This answer was given to Kinsey’s rather reasonable question, “Why did you shoot me?” The officer’s answer, in three simple words, emphasized the racism that exists, implicitly and explicitly, within many police departments across the country. The Miami Police response to this shooting is downright appalling. Kinsey was just trying to protect an autistic patient of his. Watch the news report. Kinsey is screaming, “I am this man’s case worker, all he has is a toy truck! My hands are raised!” And yet shots were still fired.
This is just the most recent in a barrage of police brutality this month, all against young black men, whose only crime was being black. As soon as you finish reading that sentence, you say, “but they had a gun!” You mean that thing the Second Amendment guarantees is a right to own lawfully? Which by the way they were. Philando Castille and Alton Sterling both had concealed carry permits, and declared as such. A white man would have been treated much more fairly.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
You know about these cases, so I’m not going to recount them for you. This post won’t be very long either. But there is something that I feel needs explaining, as too many folks out there are too ignorant to realize it themselves.
The BLM movement does not mean, “ONLY Black Lives Matter.” It means, “Black Lives Matter TOO.” So when your response is to say “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter,” you are undermining an attempt to quash the racism that has been, and still is, so prevalent in this country. Black Lives Matter does not mean that police lives don’t, or white lives don’t, it means that Black Lives Matter as well.
Make no mistake, the U.S. was founded by racists. You can’t blame them I guess; it was the late 1700s after all. We can’t fix the past but what we can do is shape the future. And the shape the future will be in if the most ignorant blowhard of an overgrown oompa loompa to ever be a presidential nominee actually wins the election, it will set this country back 100 years.
I am not talking about white guilt, white privilege, or any other phrase uttered by social justice warriors that cause everyone’s eyes to roll. What I am talking about is putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Imagine being black. Your grandfather or great-grandfather was literally owned by another human being. Your father participated in a sit-in and was beaten up just for being there. You, even in 2016, have been called the n-word by a white person. Think for a second the psychological effect that unwarranted hatred will have on you. And it’s all because of something you did not choose to be. But you are damn proud of it, and you’re going to do everything in your power to ensure that your children do not have to tolerate the same abuse.
We can and have to be better than this. If we allow ourselves to devolve into a country that only knows fear, that is skeptical of another person just because of the color of their skin, then we as a nation are doomed. Muslim, Christian, white, black, gay, straight and everything in between, it should not matter.
And that is what Black Lives Matter stands for. That is what Malcolm X died for. Black Lives Matter means equality. All lives matter, however well intentioned you think the phrase is, does not. Of course there are extremists, as there is with any religion or social viewpoint. But this is what the majority of BLM believes, that it was created as a plea: stop this hatred and violence.
So, instead of dismissing valid concerns among an entire race of people who are feeling more and more disenfranchised with every Facebook post and every Twitter rant that people like Leslie Jones have to endure, understand the mindset that black people have: they do not feel protected. They feel like they can’t trust cops. Don’t dismiss their feelings. We must do better. Everyone can’t be TREATED equally unless we are all VIEWED equally. The first step to accomplishing this, as it is with any problem, is admitting we have one.
*Featured image from The All-Nite Images, via Wiki Commons