America, it is time we have a real honest discussion. And I don’t mean the angry, bitter, close-minded arguments on Facebook that have been surfacing and causing movements of hate. Let’s be adults here. Or at least try to be, OK? With that being said, let me preface this by saying that I am writing from the perspective of a white female who was born and raised in the south. I also have experienced interracial relationships, so I have that unique perspective to offer as well. So although I cannot personally relate to those who have suffered the injustices in America, I can sympathize and try my best to live my life with open eyes and an open heart. This is my perspective on the subject at hand – so let's talk about it.
There was once a time, not too long ago I might add, where I wouldn’t use the term #BlackLivesMatter. Of course, this isn’t because I felt like they didn’t matter any less than any other lives, but because I truly believe that all lives matter, and by promoting one, maybe I was possibly disregarding the value of others. However, believing that the best way to live life is with an open mind to others views and opinions, I learned over time that this #BlackLivesMatter movement doesn’t mean that their lives matter more, just that they matter also. This wasn’t a conclusion I came to after a single conversation, but as a human, my duty is to try my best to understand how others see the world and why they see the world that way.
It is my understanding that blacks in America have felt oppressed by whites, by the police, and by a system, in general, that continues to be working against them, rather than with them. For a long time I argued against this, but I am a white female, so what do I know? I know that my opinion changed when my heart belonged to a black male and I then saw first hand how the world treated him, and me differently, and how we had to live our lives differently every day. Whether or not this oppression was intended is not the argument being made, the perception is there and people will only be walked on for so long. The fact is, there have been many injustices done to our black neighbors, and it is time we all fight for change.
My heart breaks for the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, and other loved ones of the young men who have been unjustifiably killed by police. But this does not mean that I in any way support the way people have chosen to lead the #BlackLivesMatter movement in a violent and deadly way, because in no way does more violence end violence. Yes, it is time that we make a change but we are not doing it the right way, America.
My support for the equality for all does not mean that I do not support the men and women in uniform that work to protect us. Because just as #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter. Jon Stewart said it best: “You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach, those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.” I have all the respect in the world for the men and women who put a uniform on every morning knowing that there is a possibility that they won’t come home to tuck their child into bed that night. I am so thankful for their courage and could not imagine the stress of making quick, life-changing decisions, in a matter of seconds. It is real easy for someone sitting behind a computer watching a video online to make a decision on whether or not your life was in danger when in fact, they are safe at home behind a locked door. The honest truth is, at times there will be mistakes because we are all human. The other honest truth is, there are crooked cops who do target black males to intimidate them and make them feel less human, and it is time we as a society acknowledge that and make a change.
At the end of the day, I will forever stand by the men and women who serve our community in uniform but in the same breath, I will forever fight for peace and equality for all. Believe it or not, you can do both, peacefully.
Now for the part I'm not supposed to talk about, because I'm white, remember? Black on Black crime. Now this, this is a problem I'm supposed to stay out of because it "doesn't concern" me, but as a human, I beg to differ. As a human, this concerns me because lives are being lost like it's a game and nobody wants to talk about if there is no other race to blame. On average, 4,472 black men were killed by other black men annually between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012, according to the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports. During this same time period, it can be calculated that on average 112 black men suffered both justified and unjustified police-involved deaths annually during this same time period. In no way am I bringing up these numbers to somehow justify the deaths of these men by police, but the fact is people should be just as outraged with the deaths of their own as they are with those committed by another race. Black lives matter not only when they are murdered by a white man, but when they are murdered at all. Just as a white man's life matters, no matter who murders him.
America has a problem. And it’s not a gun problem, or a race problem, or a religion problem. We have a hate problem. We foster an environment that seems to be thriving on hate, rather than love.
Let this be the start of a positive and valuable conversation that brings education to those who want to better understand the world around them. A calm, honest discussion will bring positive change to the world. Be the change you want to see.