Dallas, Texas. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Falcon Heights, Minnesota. These are a few of the cities that are engraved on every American’s mind after the tragedies that have evolved over the past week. There is a ruthless battle between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter dominating the realm of social media. Relationships between friends, neighbors and associates face turmoil as the debate over which side is the “right side” escalates. Over 13 percent of Americans live in fear that their race is being targeted and falling victim to cold-blooded murder. Children are being raised in a society where police officers are feared instead of trusted. A society where the white, male officer is depicted as the villain.
I do not disagree that race related crimes happen. I do not doubt that aggressive policing has, and continues to, end innocent lives. There are terrible people in this world who commit – to put it simply – terrible acts. But, is the lesson we should be taking from this that white police officers are after the black community?
The truth of the matter is we, the public, do not have all of the details that are essential in these tragic situations. The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t take a terrible person to find themselves in a terrible situation. Does that constitute the end of a life? No. Never. But, I find it very disheartening to see how quick people are to watch these gut-wrenching videos and read scripts from these horrendous incidences and jump on a side based off of a label. Based on race. Based on career. We have spent decades working to bridge the greatest divide this country has faced. We have spent decades to create a world where society recognizes we are all equal – because we are. Does that mean this world is always fair? No. Do people get shot when they should not have been? Yes. Do police officers find themselves being targeted based on their profession? Apparently so. Does racism still exist? Absolutely. The fact of the matter is the person who commits the crime committed it because of who that person is as a human being. Because of what is on the inside of that person. Not because they are black. Not because they are a cop. White people do terrible things. Asian people do terrible things. Doctors. Firefighters. Parents. Teachers. Hispanics. People of faith. World leaders. When you cultivate a society that creates transgressions based on a label, you are cultivating the same type of environment that once led to genocide. That leads to civil wars. That continues to lead to more acts of violence fought with violence. We are cultivating a society where we breed hate and disregard the importance of innocent lives. The importance of ALL LIVES.
With the media flooded with stories similar to the ones that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota, it’s easy to question if this is becoming our new normal. Unacceptable, despicable, but normal. After all, you wake up and there’s another video, another headline. “White Police Officer Shoots and Kills Black Man.” Why is this the headline the media chooses? Because this is the story you’re going to read.
“Officer Helps Elderly Woman After Falling Down While Crossing Road” – might make local news.
“(Black) Man Shoots Another (Black) Man” – likely wouldn’t make the news.
“White Officer Kills Black Man After Routine Traffic Stop” – viral, national news.
They have fed you what they know you want to read, what they know will give them a story. The media interjects this issue of race into their headlines and therefore imposes the thought upon you. They have dehumanized the people involved down to a simple label. It’s not about an innocent man or an officer protecting a community anymore. It’s about embellishing where necessary to feed readers what they know will make their headlines go viral. The media does not care that they are feeding into a racial frenzy that threatens to eradicate any racial peace our country has spent lifetimes working to build.
I am sure many of you are thinking the media isn’t the problem. The problem is that these crimes continue to happen. Period. So, tell me this – if the issue is that these situations continue to arise, why are we turning against one another instead of banning together to find a solution? Certainly you can see that killing white officers isn’t the answer.
Despite what the Houston sniper may have believed. Turning these acts of violence into an issue of race doesn’t solve the problem, it creates more problems. Because this isn’t a race issue, it’s a human rights issue. So, why are we not fighting for those basic human rights as a united nation? If the men and women being trained to protect our communities are going to find themselves in these specific types of scenarios where they have to make these impulse decisions, why are we not providing more tailored training to these specific situations? I am not implying that officers are not properly trained, but if the crime is changing, the training on how to handle those crimes has to change, too.
Step outside of your box. Take a view on the other side of the situation. Challenge yourself to think on a bigger scale and to take regard for every life affected. We do not have all the answers or a perfect solution. Change will not happen over night. But we do have a solid foundation on where to start – to recognize this issue for what it is, to come together as nation and support one another because we all matter, to do whatever means necessary to make America the country it once was and the country it can be again. A country where all lives matter.