I really did not want to write this blog post. I did not want to write it because I’m literally living on a fantasy island where the homogenous population is mostly concerned about the high crime rate resulting from the high avocado prices.
I did not want to write this because this blog is supposed to be fun and light-hearted and inspiring, not mournful and political and real.
I did not want to write this because I knew certain family members and friends whom I greatly respect, would read it and hang their head in disappointment with my opinions.
I did not want to write it because it’s uncomfortable and awkward and I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to write a think piece about racial tension in America.
I didn’t want to write it because it’s not my problem, and that’s exactly why I had to write it.
I didn’t want to watch the video taken after Philando Castille’s murder. I didn’t want to hear the surprisingly calm pleads of his girlfriend or hear the panic in the officer's voice or see the look on the four-year-old witness’s face. It was so easy to skip over the video, letting my imagination fill in for what I didn’t see. We’ve heard this story before. Do I really need to watch it?
It's easy being me, because I was born white. It's not a choice I made, but a privilege I inherit nonetheless. Skipping the video because it’s too hard to watch is privilege. Reading the newspaper headlines, feeling sad, and still getting a full night of sleep is privilege. Black children across the country are being shown the video as a cautionary tale while I get the privilege of turning a blind eye if I want. They are warned not to make sudden movements, not to have any inflection of irritation in their voice, not to ask any questions, lest they want to be killed in cold blood for their impoliteness. They are being taught how to behave around police in the same manner women are taught to dress conservatively to avoid rape. They are taught to comply with a system that does not trust them. They are a population of 9 million American citizens who feel dehumanized, devalued and unsafe. I know this not because I experience it, but because they tell me and I’m listening.
The loss of every Black man slain by the police is tragic. The murders of the Dallas police officers are tragic. But being sickened by the murders of Black men at the hands of police does not make you anti-cop. It sounds absurd, I know, but you can actually support the Black Lives Matter movement while still supporting your local police force.
Retorting with “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” is an irresponsible and vapid response to a deep and systematic racial problem in America. If you actually care about police officers, demand they be trained to make better choices. Demand they be trained specifically to be aware of how their perception of race might play a role in the response time of their trigger finger. If you won’t demand a better system for the Black communities clutching to their murdered children, do it of the police officers you love so much. They deserve a better system too.
Do not stay neutral, do not stay silent. Be vocal, even if you do not have one single Black friend. Be vocal, even if you hail from a long lineage of police officers. Be vocal even if only two people will listen to you, one of which is your mother. Be vocal even if your own mother won’t listen to you.
Be vocal especially if the struggle is not your own.
It’s easy to feel hopeless when you are fighting a cause that doesn’t directly affect you but you can make a difference, if only by using your voice helping to amplify the struggles and pain endured by marginalized communities. Black communities need the support of white people just as much as feminism needs the support of men. If it was easy for you to join Emma Watson's #heforshe crusade, this should be no different.
If you’d like to do more, consider donating to an organization focused empowering black communities and creating black leaders. Here’s a very small sample size to consider:
- Black Lives Matter
- Outdoor Afro
- Associated Black Charities
- National Action Council For Minorities in Engineering
Be an informed voter by verifying you voter registration status.
Demand a country that values the lives of people of color. It is absolutely reasonable and it is absolutely attainable.
If this resonates with you, feel free to share it. But even better, find an article written by a non-white author and share that instead. Black communities have been repeating this message for decades and if you want to help their voices be heard, retweet, repost and share their lived experiences.