In the wake of the tragic recent events that have taken place in the United States, I have seen extreme uproar on social media in regards to both the Black Lives Matter and the Blue Lives Matter movements. For those who do not know, Black Lives Matter is in reference to the lives of African American individuals or those who identify themselves to be culturally in line with them. Blue Lives Matter is in reference to the lives of policemen and policewomen in the United States.
I have always seen posts about Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, but the increase in social media presence occurred this week after two black men and five police officers were killed over a series of deadly events. On Thursday, July 7, 2016, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by an officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While the exact details of what went on remain largely unknown, a graphic video of the shooting surfaced on the Internet just after it occurred. For reasons self-explanatory, this sparked uproar within the black community and Black Lives Matter movement. The next day, a man named Philando Castile was shot to death by a police officer in Minnesota. After being pulled over, Castile was shot while sitting in the driver’s seat of his car in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. His girlfriend videotaped the aftermath of the shooting, which made its way to the Internet as well. After these tragic incidents, many peaceful protests began to occur around the United States. At a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas, an African American man shot and killed five police officers. The uproar from both of the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protests continued.
These incidents are devastating and the loss of innocent lives due to corrupt and misguided intentions is tragic. People have lost their lives, children have lost fathers, wives have lost husbands, mothers have lost sons, friends have lost friends. These are sad facts that cannot be easily forgotten or simply moved past. However, the thing that really stuck out to me during these tragic few days was the clear divide in peoples minds that you could only support one side or the other. That you could only support Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter. That you could only be pro-black or pro-police, either-or. No in-between.
Personally, I believe this to be completely wrong. I do not see why it is wholly impossible to some people that others can respect and value the lives of African Americans and respect and value the lives of policemen and policewomen. I am unsure as to why mourning the lives lost for one demographic means that you celebrate the lives lost for the other. I understand that there are some corrupt cops. I also know that there are corrupt people all over the country, of various races, social status and occupation. I do not condone the actions of any. I understand there is uproar in the Black Lives Matter movement because of the many lives lost at the hands of police, for whatever reason. I understand the uproar in the Blue Lives Matter community. They fight to protect American citizens and put their lives on the line every single day.
Both sides fight for justice on very valid terms. However, I do not believe the actions of few should encompass the characteristics of many. The issue I am discussing is not that of the reasoning behind why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed. It is not that of the motivation behind the murder of the five Dallas police officers. It is that many American citizens wholeheartedly believe that you need to pick a side in this battle or else your feelings are invalid and your support is unnecessary. The strong voices heard from either movement are usually those of the most passionately driven for one side or the other. But, what about the people who sympathize for the lives lost on both sides? How can some be expected to choose a side when it is part of human nature to feel compassionate towards an individual who has died, or to a family and/or community who have lost loved ones? How does a person who may not have been directly impacted by the events of the last week choose who deserves their support more? What about people who have friends and family where some happen to be African American and some happen to be policemen/policewomen for a living? How can they be told that they cannot support and value the lives of both?
Corruption aside, it is disheartening to think that there are people that believe a person cannot support and value the lives of both African Americans and men and women in uniform. It is human nature to believe that a life has value, not matter the color of your skin nor the job you do everyday. I do understand the circumstances behind a person being fully supportive of one side or the other. However, I do not believe it to be true that you cannot choose to support both. You can support police while also believing that there is corruption that needs to be addressed and stopped. You can support the African American community without condoning the retaliatory murder of the five Dallas cops. You can support Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives matter because you believe that lives matter. You can support one, or the other, or both. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Written with the utmost respect for the lives lost on both sides and as a supporter of both the #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter movements.