#ControversialHashtagHere

standard September 26, 2016 Leave a response

Note: I wrote this last week but kept postponing posting it, but since Secretary Clinton touched on some of what what’s below, I figured I should post it sooner rather than later.

I’m scared.

Not for myself, but for everyone.

How can our hearts continue to beat with all the sadness, mistrust and anger coursing through our veins?

I normally do not feed the trolls, I do not engage in political discourse with most people because I know that changing their mind is as easy as pulling a rabid steer out of a sinkhole – pretty damn hard. But after reading an article1 posted on Facebook by my friend Megan K, I realized that I’m not helping anyone by my silence, I’m not doing anything, because being a silent bystander is just as bad as publicly spouting vitriol.

#BlackLivesMatter

My Facebook is awash with posts and memes that share the same message: “I’m not racist, but, I don’t understand racism.”

Of course #AllLivesMatter, of course #BlueLivesMatter, I am not, in any way, shape or form, saying that they do not. And if you try to twist my words around to say that, I will come to your house and pour glitter down your throat and put maple syrup in your shampoo bottle.

Imagine this scenario:

You are walking down the street at night and see a black man in his 40s walking your way. Let’s pretend that you both are average citizens, with average body measurements2. Does your hand immediately go for your wallet or purse? Do you avert your eyes and quicken your pace?

Let’s swap out the black man for a white teenage male; same street, same time of day, same average measurements. Same questions as before. Does your hand immediately go for your wallet or purse? Do you avert your eyes and quicken your pace?

How about a middle-aged Hispanic woman?

Let’s change up the age for the black male, let’s make him 25.

Be honest, there’s a high probability that you’ll be warier around the black men than the others.

So when there is an altercation between a police officer and a black male, your first assumption is that the black male was the instigator, that there was probable cause for the officer to pull his firearm, and that there was reasonable justification for discharging said firearm multiple times. 

And, if there is concrete proof that the officer is in the wrong, you will start citing random statistics like, “they [black men] kill each other 10 to 20 times a day, why isn’t that in the news?” Same reason that every woman who hits her spouse isn’t in the news – first, it is a civilian-on-civilian crime, and second, there is that subconscious belief that the victim deserved it.

Police officers are held to a higher standard than most because they protect us, shield us from harm and help us when we need it most. Beyond the call of duty, it’s their love of man and country that makes them willing to give their lives to save others. 

Yes, love. It may be the love of a specific person or it might be an all-encompassing abstract love for everyone around them, but (to me) it’s still love.

That’s why it’s so disappointing when someone dies by an officer’s hand. Let me clarify. It’s so disappointing when a black man dies by an officer’s hand.

Tension has always existed between the black community and the police, for both real and imagined reasons on both sides. Unfortunately there is no easy solution, but a good starting point is releasing any audio/video of an officer-involved shooting immediately after it occurs – even if it paints the police in a negative light. The public needs to know that while the officer was in the wrong, the police force does not condone such actions. If the officer was legitimately protecting himself or others, this will allay any fears or doubt that there was an unnecessary use of force.

Yes, I am putting the burden of proof on law enforcement. Why? Because they swore an oath to protect and serve, and that oath encompasses everyone everywhere at any time, it’s not something that can be flipped on and off.

Maybe that first step will show the black community that the police are serious about changing things for the better, maybe it’ll start a dialogue that will help all of us.

Note:

I am not trying to vilify law enforcement, I merely want to highlight the fact that 12%3 of America’s population lives every day with the knowledge that the general public assumes the worst about them; that they are more likely to be stopped & frisked find stats than any other segment of the population (with only a small percentage actually guilty of a crime); that their lives are so expendable, it’s a running joke that they are always the first to die in modern cinema find article?

I’ll let you decide which demographic that is.

References

1. Hensley Schultz, E. (2016). So, Which Is It?. It’s fine. Retrieved 23 September 2016, from https://erinhensleyschultz.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/so-which-is-it/

2. McDowell, M., Fryar, C., Ogden, C., & Flegal, K. (2016). Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003–2006 (1st ed., pp. 7-10). Hyattsville: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved 23 September 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr010.pdf

3. Population estimates, July 1, 2015, (V2015). Census.gov. Retrieved 23 September 2016, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00

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