Black Lives Matter
This is a touchy subject, but I wanted to voice an opinion and hear from you to help me understand and gain more perspective.
For the longest time, I was one to think or say (quietly in my mind or sometimes out loud) how I want equality for all and how everyone matters and no human being is really entitled to determine who gets to live in the midst of chaos.
It’s like this whole kumbaya spiel of how I wish people would give other people a chance. A chance at peace. A chance at life. A chance to understand one another. A chance to respect each other. Or how everything would be better if people weren’t so quick to judge, point fingers, accuse people of being or thinking a certain way or hating a race or an ethnicity because a few bad ones behaved one way and ruined it for everyone else. I wanted to somehow push people to try. At least try. But hey, people are people, and it will always happen – the judging, the bias, the bigotry, and the shootings.
Now, the whole thing with “Black Lives Matter” and people dismissing that phrase with an “all lives matter” or “all colors matter” statement is problematic. The problem with saying those two phrases is that they undermine that black lives do, in fact, matter. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” in no way claims that other lives do not matter.
There’s bias with news pertaining to stories about black lives. They’re not really considered “news” because young, black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers (federal data for 1,217 fatal police shootings between 2010 and 2012 showed that young black men were 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by cops), which may be why we don’t treat it as anything really new.
According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, which is nearly twice each week. Almost one in three killed were identified as unarmed (actual number might be higher due to underreporting). Get this…apparently, only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime.
How do we solve this? Can we have better training for all of us to acknowledge our subconscious prejudices and increase accountability to help impede the excessive use of brutality and force? To clarify that there are indeed consequences in misusing and/or abusing our rights and powers?
In the recent case of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, two white officers were arresting Alton Sterling, a black man, after responding to a call about an armed man around a convenience store. The officers had Sterling pinned to the ground and with Sterling unable to move, one of the police officers yelled, “he’s got a gun!” and within seconds from that, Sterling was shot by at least one of the officers.
This is raising all sorts of questions and outrage pertaining to law enforcement and racial disparities. Autopsy reports show Sterling having died of multiple gunshot wounds. According to the convenience shop owner, the officers were “aggressive” from the start, and though Sterling was armed, he was not holding a gun, nor did he have his hand near his pocket at the time of the shooting. So what really happened?
My main point is, we don’t pay attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. We do not treat all lives as though they matter equally. Saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t at all saying “ONLY Black Lives Matter” in any size, shape or form. It’s not an anti-white proposition, either. The statement “Black Lives Matter” actually carries an unspoken but implied “too,” as in “black lives matter, too,” which encourages inclusion rather than exclusion. By saying “all lives matter” or any other variations of that phrase, is a slap in the face, not to mention, a dismissal to the very problems that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is trying to convey or draw attention to. So please, next time you are about to say and/or argue “all lives matter”, be conscious that there is a silent added “too,” to the end of the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. Black lives matter, too.