Black Lives Matter

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Black Lives Matter. Believe it or not my daughter had to really explain this to me a couple of years ago. Not because I didn’t think they mattered. Because I, like many, thought ALL lives mattered. I figured I was being more socially just in saying as much. I felt it. We all matter. Insert the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” song here, while we all joins hands and exude love. Then she explained to me how in stating this, I was watering down the statement. Yes, in a perfect world, we ALL matter, but really —  when have white lives NOT mattered? Today – especially today – it’s so very important that we focus on the lives that seem to matter less than anyone’s.  Our white males never had to fear simply existing and God forbid being in the wrong place at the wrong time .What we need to learn, to press – to force down the throats if necessary – of each individual until everyone completely understands is that Black Lives Matter. Because people don’t seem to be grasping this strongly enough.

I started this post off stating how the lack of social outrage in my immediate world regarding the two shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had me feeling physically sick inside. Sick and outraged and dumbfounded. Around me, in my very white world, with my mostly very white friends, I am shocked at the silence. I read on Facebook, which is my immediate source of social media, that it’s just another day in the neighborhood. Someone is having car problems, and others want to entertain or be entertained. A few have shown pictures of a trip they are on, and one even complained about a relationship, while many seemed to ask for prayers about something going on their lives, but all the while the names Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are buzzing around the media like mad, in my world nothing has seemingly changed. I suspect some are quietly ingesting all of this and prefer to stay silent on it, until the facts are presented, but I really was surprised that only two people on my feed have even mentioned the carnage – because to me this is more than two mere shootings — .

I’m not judging the friends I have. I’m not judging the community I live in. I’m not stating that the two above mentioned posters are better than, just because they voiced something. I’m honestly just thunderstruck that I’m living in a world where my newsfeed can come unglued when a gorilla is put down, or a rock stars dies, but stays silent when not one, but two black men are gunned down by the agency that is paid to protect them. Protect us all.

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? WHERE IS THE CALL FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE?

A friend’s daughter posted a few days ago how she questioned the silence when Baghdad was bombed and 250+ innocent lives were taken, and yet how fervent we are about Orlando. Or Paris. Or San Bernardino. The only explanation or opinion I could express was the desensitized way of thinking we have about Middle Eastern bombings and killings because they aren’t happening to us, but bring it home – and we can see how easily that could have been one of our own loved ones. Is that what we have here too? Are we so used to the fact that black lives really don’t seem to matter, that we barely blink when such injustice is done? Do we really value the life of a zoo animal, than we do of a black male?

All I can think is how ripped apart my life would be if my son wore a target on his back every day of his life, and finally one day someone in authority got the better of him, because of (fill in the blank). Fear of his skin color? Stereo typecasting because of his socio economics? He’s black therefore he must have committed that crime? I can’t think of what else it’s tantamount to.

I was raised to have the utmost respect for law enforcement. Those were the good guys, and until I was old enough to pick up a Joseph Wambaugh book or make the clear delineation that no one group is all good or bad, it pretty much stuck with me. In my 20’s I met some pretty – let’s call them “Loose with Affection” cops; some who were down right sleaze factories, but again I was able to define that not all are painted with the same paint brush. I don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer. I do know that it’s a job unlike any other. I can’t possibly comprehend the emotions that course through you when placed in situations like this day after day. OR — maybe, like those of us who didn’t react to Baghdad, some police have become desensitized to the people they are in contact with daily.

I freely admit I don’t know all the facts about these two situations, outside of what I’ve read (a lot) and  what I’ve watched (sadly – a lot), but my gut reactions tell me that I know what I saw. Unlike in other situations similar to this, there was video proof from the first moment in one. And compelling, heart wrenching video in another. What I didn’t see was an immediate threat in either case.  What I did see in the Alton Sterling case was a man confused and immediately brought down to the ground because he didn’t react/respond quick enough to two very overzealous men in uniform. His confusion seemed absolutely in par with the situation. He hadn’t done anything wrong, what was going on? What else it looked like, from both videos was an execution to a man who couldn’t possibly have been a lethal threat on the ground with a cop on top of him.

BOTH video’s in Alton Sterling murder have made it very clear that he was unarmed at the moment he was taken down. That he was incapable of brandishing, threatening, or shooting a gun that he later appeared to have in his pocket; When his arms were above his head and he was laying on the ground, straddled by armed police.

As for Philando Castile? I don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer and have someone comply with the law by advising me ahead of time that they are legally armed. Do I assume that by advising me of this, you are an immediate threat? Personally I think the ones who might not tell me of this fact could possibly pose more of a threat. Would I ask this person to move a little slower, or would I just figure what the hell, and shoot him? Yes I’m being flippant, because I’m disgusted.

And don’t think that not by being male you are automatically free of harm, because while Philando bled out on the front seat of his car, his girlfriend and her child had a police gun trained right on them. While she fully and calmly complied with law enforcement, she was comforted for her loss by handcuffs, and an 8-hour detainment.

Never have I seen a stronger case of Shoot and Ask Questions Later.

What will come next will be an absolute character assassination on both men. Immediately you read that Alton had a criminal background. As if that fucking justifies things. Do you think those two cops knew that immediately? I imagine that we might get back toxicology reports too. The point is, we need to strip these two men from being victims, to — well maybe they were asking for it. We do it each and every time.

What are we teaching society? That by just by being black and armed you should be shot dead. I have heard for years that there are good apples and there are bad within all police departments,  but where are those good ones? Why aren’t they standing up, and crying out? Is it possible that there are more bad apples than good? It sure as hell would seem that way lately. This is not a situation with bad leadership within the LAPD. It certainly not just racial injustice in the South. It’s in your apple pie loving Mid-West. It’s in your big cities, and small ones. This is seemingly everywhere. This is America and today’s version of lynching. They no longer need to hide behind white hoods and burning crosses, because law enforcement seemingly arms and permits you to hunt. People. People of Color.

What does it all boil down to? I’m not certain. I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color, and have to have this fear; whether it’s for you, or your loved one. I don’t know what it’s like to feel that cold dread of fear the moment I see police lights, simply because of my race, or gender. But I do know what it’s like to be a mother. To have a family. My worries about them are on such a smaller scale than this, that it’s immeasurable. I cried when I read the stories of the family members, devastated by the quick carnage that stole their children. Their nephew, or son or grandson. My empathy on this, while it encompasses me, is a drop in the bucket to what these communities are feeling. A sense of helplessness. Outrage. Outrage needs to sweep everyone, until it’s clear that these cases will not be simply swept under the rug. These officers should not just be placed on Administrative Leave, pending further investigation, which to me reads: Let the masses cool their heels on this for a bit. It needs to be known everywhere, that being born a black male is not a crime, and it most certainly isn’t the equivalent of a death sentence.

 

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