Can you believe people saying “BLACK LIVES MATTER” pisses some folks off?? Seriously, what the hell is that about? Clearly people (like myself) feel like it needs to be pointed out because well, it really doesn’t seem like they do these days, yet it’s offensive? BLM protesters are race baiters? REALLY?? Saying that a life matters is racist? In my head, my voice is very high pitched right now.
Back in July after the Dallas police shootings, I wrote a Facebook post in response to some asinine comments by some of my fellow FB “friends”. My point was to give a different viewpoint to those who had the nerve to suggest that people standing up for the senseless killings of Black folks by the police were somehow wrong for how they felt. I figured I would try that instead of cussin’ them out and unfriending them immediately:
July 10, 2016: If you don’t know the story of the Dallas police chief, please look him up. He is a prime example of having the ability to grieve and appreciate both sides of the issue. His SON, a young Black man, was killed by cops. He’s a police chief. His ability to still be respectful, work with every day, support and flat out defend his officers who were killed is special. I’m not sure I would be able to not take a stance against the police after going through something like that, but that’s why it didn’t happen to me I suppose. For people who have never had to experience violence personally and can’t understand what that does to a person or a family, you have no reason not to at least make an attempt to TRY and look through another lens. I wonder how many of my fb “friends” would say some of the things you have said if it was ME that got killed this week?? Yeah me, Coach J. You laugh and joke with me on and off fb all the time. I may or may not have some dirt on my criminal record that you don’t know about but you find out after I’m dead. I was once arrested for (insert petty misdemeanor crime here). I had a tail light out that I have been meaning to fix but haven’t because I have been working non-stop. Oh by the way, the folks in the car with me had some weed. But the cops know NONE of this when they pull me over initially. Would that make a difference if you saw a video of me in the front seat of a car bleeding out and moaning, taking my last breath with a gun still aimed at me? Would it make a difference if you saw me pinned down on the ground and then shot several times while the cops just watched me die? What if you heard I talked back to the cop, did I deserve to die? What if witnesses say I complied and used all the yes sirs and no sirs that I’m “supposed to”? Would that justify my dying like that? It’s very easy to disassociate, blame, ignore and all that other stuff we do to cope when you have no personal skin in the game. When you don’t have to worry about your brothers, sons, cousins, etc not making it home because that’s a foreign idea to you. Same for cops, if you don’t know personally or have any cops in your family, and all you have had are negative experiences, it’s easier to not be as respectful, caring, understanding or even aware of what they go through on a daily basis. HOWEVER it is not an excuse. It is very possible to support ALL the families who have lost loved ones, and that includes the black and the blue lives. If you are willing, it is possible to respect both sides’ grief and not negate one over the other. It is possible for the SAME person to say and feel “that’s a shame” and have it apply to both situations. I think for some, it might be more helpful to add a “too” to the Black lives matter statement. It doesn’t mean and I have never thought it ever meant that all other lives don’t matter. It does mean hey acknowledge that Black lives matter TOO, also, as well as, in addition to everyone else. The PERCEPTION for alot of people is that Black lives don’t matter. And for some unfortunately that perception becomes a reality.
I felt like if I put a personal Black face on things…mine…it might somehow make others (my White friends) “get it” a little better. It’s ridiculous that I have to explain this but saying or feeling that Black lives matter, doesn’t mean that no other lives matter. I’m not sure where that even came from but it spread like a wildfire. It turned into ALL lives matter and BLUE lives matter…totally negating (and missing) the whole point.
Humor me while I give a simple example using plain old common sense. Let’s say we find out that the cause for breast cancer research is low on money and you decide to participate in a Susan G. Komen 5K walk to help raise funds. On race day, I doubt that you will see protesters at the starting line with signs saying “all cancers matter” or “lung cancer matters”. Why not? Because it SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD that although we’re walking for breast cancer research, it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about other cancers! (Insert long drawn out DUH and eye roll here).
It pisses me off that people even HAVE to say Black lives matter, but the fact that some people get offended by it takes me somewhere else entirely! You’re not offended that unarmed, hell in most cases non law-breaking Blacks are getting killed in the streets like animals, seconds after an encounter with police. That doesn’t bother you, but people suggesting that one person’s life matters as much as the next person does? There was more outrage from White folks about a %*@%$#! GORILLA being killed to save a child, than Black human beings. Black gorilla lives matter apparently. Oh and remember the lion? Animal rights folks, who quite honestly tend to be way more White than Black folks, LOST THEIR MINDS when that dentist killed Cecil. Is he still in hiding? Anyway. I mean I love animals too, but God gave us dominion OVER animals and they are NOT more important than human lives, period!
Seriously though, where is the outrage over Filando Castille, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Dontre Hamilton, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Oscar Grant, Ramarley Graham, Eric Harris, Jordan Davis, Samuel Dubose, Freddie Gray and countless others? Can we at least ACT like we’re mad about the killings of Black women by police or in police custody like Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shelly Frey, Malissa Williams, Tanisha Anderson, Corryn Gaines, Alesia Thomas, Rekia Boyd, Alberta Spruill, Shereese Francis, Tarika Wilson, Cassandra Bland, 92 year-old Kathryn Johnston and 7 year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones?
When I get over myself and my initial angry feelings about all of this, I do the adult thing and try to understand other perspectives. Why anyone would have a problem with someone saying that a human being’s life matters. These are the questions that run through my grey matter…questions that I still don’t have answers to BTW.
- Is it because they’re Black? If so, then you kinda make the point for the need to say it. If you have a problem with Black lives being important enough to matter, then therein lies the problem! Are some people offended because they actually feel that Black lives DON’T matter and how dare someone try to suggest that they do? I know that is a deep one and maybe hard to swallow but we all know this is true for somebody…or a alot of somebody’s. Shout out to the basket of deplorables. Yes right here TODAY in the good ol U.S. of A. Not wayyyy back in the day when they hunted Africans like wild game and stole them from their native land. Chained them to one another, beat & packed them like sardines on boats only to be sold as slaves to the highest bidder. I actually feel like the lucky ones died on the way and the ones that lived and ended up in America truly knew what it felt like for a Black life not to matter. Property did not equal a life that mattered and they were treated as such. Yes, things have changed, no we’re not in chains anymore, but if the end result is still mistreatment and even death, what are we bragging about?
- Does it bother you because you might have to change or do something different? The other thing that goes through my mind is whether the Black lives matter phrase bothers people because once we acknowledge “HEY GUYS Black lives DO matter”…then we will have to do something about the fact that some Black folks are not being treated at all like they do. Once we agree that Black lives matter, we have to hold a racist system accountable for the misdeeds that we have witnessed against Black people. And real talk, some people are not trying to rock that boat at all.
Here in Atlanta, I witnessed in person some of the protests downtown. There were a lot of Black people in the streets trying to convince others that our lives should matter and yes there were a few brave sprinkles of White brothers and sisters too. Overall though, it takes a special and fearless individual to stand up and fight for another’s rights. It’s going to take White people or others who aren’t Black to step out of their comfort zones, not give a damn about their friends, co-workers or family and take a stand. If only Black people say it, sadly it will never be enough. We’re just seen as “pulling the race card”. Until it’s a problem for ALL of us, it won’t change. In the Civil Rights Era, it took more than Martin Luther King Jr. & Jesse Jackson protesting and marching in the streets to put a spotlight on the mistreatment of Black people. Even back in slavery times during the underground railroad days, White people were instrumental in helping Blacks hide out and provide safe houses for those looking to escape those horrific conditions of slavery. It took some White soldiers as well and the same is true today.
Now, let’s not make the mistake and think that these killings which seem to have happened way too often over the past few years are new. No my friend, it’s not a new trend at all. What’s new is that we’re seeing it live and in color more often. We’re becoming aware because it’s invading one of our most precious senses, our eyesight. People are not hesitating to pull out their phones and go “live” in the midst of horrific situations. With our very own eyes, we witness Filando Castille’s fiancee in complete shock recording his final breaths as he bled to death next to her in a car. He was pulled over for a traffic violation and ended up dead. We also see the cop who shot him make the decision to keep a gun pointed at him while he moaned and died…instead of rendering first aid or helping in any way. We see women like the wife of Keith Lamont Scott stand feet away screaming at officers that he has some kind of brain condition and to not shoot him. That’s exactly what they did though and she was helpless on the sidelines as her husband lay dying in the street.
On several other occasions, we have seen mothers and children on TV hysterically crying over the deaths of their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Along with the rest of the world, Alton Sterling’s son watched his dad be completely restrained by two police officers seconds before they shot him…and stood by while he died in the street soon after. We also observe in horror as Eric Garner pleaded for his life saying “I can’t breathe” until he was choked out by an officer and died. Over selling cigarettes. Yes, apparently selling the cigarettes is illegal but should that crime be punishable by death? Should any of the things these men may or may not have done warranted them being killed?
How about when no crime is committed…other than walking through the neighborhood with a hoodie on (in the rain I might add, so a hoodie was very appropriate) with Skittles & a can of iced tea while Black? We didn’t see that altercation but we HEARD the cries of a teenage boy named Trayvon Martin, knowing he was probably about to die. I know fake ass rent a cop George Zimmerman convinced some of y’all that was him yelling on the recording but riddle me this. If you have a gun, why are you screaming for help?
Don’t you dare say Black lives matter though. How could we even question whether Black lives matter you ask? Because even when you SEE & HEAR these things for yourself and viscerally FEEL them to the point of tears for total strangers, nothing happens! Cops get off. And they don’t walk free after a trial, they don’t even get charged! It’s not even taken into consideration that they may have done something wrong. So how again am I supposed to feel like Black lives matter?
Oh and if you really want to make me mad, start talking about Black on Black crime anywhere in the same breath as a Black lives matter conversation. Why? Because that’s an apples to umm watermelon comparison. Is that topic one of concern and definitely one that needs to be addressed. Yes. HOWEVER, Black on Black crime is apparently in line with White on White crime or any other same race to same race crime. Research it! We kill who we know. Well to be clear, I haven’t killed anyone, but if I ever was involved in a “situation”, chances are that it will probably be somebody close and familiar to me. Those are the facts. (Heads up to family and friends that might catch me on a bad day). Think about it, who goes all out of their way to kill random people except for serial killers and other special types? Watch any episode of Snapped, Fatal Attraction, For My Man (all of my guilty TV show pleasures) and see who people are killing. Husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, fathers, kids, who are not only the same race but close in proximity. Most people are not randomly killing people of other races across town.
What about when it’s a Black cop killing a Black man? So now you’re saying that Black cops are immune to the systemic racism and inherent biases that exist between the police & Black folks? Please! Not going to even get tempted to go on a tangent about SOME Black cops.
But Jada, police officers put their lives on the line every day and want to make it home to their families. I respect that but how about we ALL make it home?? Why do we have to choose between the Black man (or woman because we are not immune either #sayhername) and the cop as to who dies? Our police undoubtedly have a job that I wouldn’t do in a million years. IMO the justice system is failing both Black citizens and the police. New cops are on the streets without proper training, thrown into situations that they are not prepared for whatsoever. Old cops are so set in their ways and not interested in learning how to deal with people, especially those who are different. Teach cops how to handle people with mental health issues or maybe some racial sensitivity training. How about do a more thorough background check before some of these clowns even get hired? There are card carrying members of the Klan in some police departments. The new millennium Klan though with suits, ties and khakis…not that sheet & hood with the eye holes get up. You know, the “alt-right” crew.
I can’t imagine how hard it is to not have an attitude that ends up causing you to treat people more like guilty until proven innocent in every encounter. I worked as a residential counselor for years with “at-risk” youth and even I was probably guilty. You learn very quickly that these kids are almost always up to something and eventually you start treating them that way. Even when they ain’t up to something, you THINK they are…this usually means you end up expecting the worse and acting accordingly. Now imagine being a police officer who encounters crime, and all sorts of negative things day in and out. At some point and probably early on in your career too, you’re probably going to be more apt to think that most people that you get calls about or engage with are the “bad guy”. Might be easier to jump to that conclusion when it’s a Black person for several reasons. Black people and crime/negativity are shown ALL. THE. TIME. On the news, in TV shows, movies, etc. If we see an image long enough, coupled with the fact that we already have our degrees of racist/stereotypical ideas about others, you start to believe it. You see Black people on the news standing in front of a judge in chains and an orange jumpsuit long enough, you start to believe that’s what all Black folks are about. You see enough images of Black folks standing on street corners smoking weed or selling drugs, you start to assume that every group of Blacks congregated anywhere must be doing something illegal. Do Black people sell drugs? Yep and White folks do too. Do Black folks smoke weed? Yep and White folks do too. But let a young Black or Brown person get busted for weed or God forbid crack, they are getting life in prison. In the system, criminal record, life over. A White kid pushing cocaine or prescription pills gets a lesser sentence, probation, a scared straight program, record probably expunged, second or third chance at life.
When was the last time you saw a White person on camera getting choked by the police, or shot while running away or shot after reaching for I.D. that the officer told him to pull out? Never? Me either. Is it not happening or is there some covert operation going on that has determined we don’t want to see those things happening to White people? I HAVE seen Whites folks act a plum fool with the police and get talked down though. I think the proper word is de-escalation, which is what’s supposed to happen. Cops are supposed to be trained to deal with craziness, so I thought. These days, when it comes to certain groups of people, When an officer feels “threatened”, they shoot first and figure the rest out later. Like plant a taser on the man I just shot who was running AWAY from me. I saw an admitted White mass murderer, Dylan Roof, taken alive into custody and be carefully escorted to jail in a bullet proof vest. I have also seen a 12 year old CHILD by the name of Tamir Rice, who had a toy BB gun in the park, get shot down before the responding police officer’s car had barely even stopped completely. Sadly I could go on…
Listen, I won’t claim to know that I understand what goes through a cop’s head when he feels the need to shoot someone who seems to not be doing anything worth dying over. As a matter of fact, I don’t understand it at all. I only know what I see, have seen and sadly probably will see again. Until society and our justice system starts treating Black lives as such, I will continue to say BLACK LIVES MATTER. As I stated in another post, there is no such thing as being colorblind, so see our Blackness, appreciate our Blackness and ACT like Black lives matter. Give me a reason not to feel the need to say it anymore and I’ll stop!