Every time an act of police brutality or a mass shooting or an act of terror occurs, I find myself struggling to find the words to say, and even more, struggling to find the courage to put my thoughts out there on the internet. I have friends and family who fall on every point of the political spectrum, and every time I sit down to write something like this, I am extremely conscious of the possible retaliation I can garner from my extremely conservative family members and extremely liberal friends that I have met throughout college. I don’t like to ruffle any feathers. I don’t like to rock the boat. It’s not my style, and it’s far beyond my comfort zone.
However, something was very different about the past week for me. After seeing two more black men’s violent murders go viral and watching the death toll of police officers in Texas rise steadily as I read live news updates, my heart became heavier and my rage multiplied with every ignorant tweet I read. After falling asleep during a panic attack after going so far down the Internet rabbit hole following these senseless and violent murders, I knew I could not stay silent any longer.
I can no longer stay silent because, no matter how much it scares me to rock the boat, silence always favors the oppressor. I can no longer stay silent because I am fortunate enough to be free from the direct consequences of systematic oppression, while minorities in this country still fear for their lives at traffic stops and while walking down the street and even legal protection can no longer help them. I can no longer stay silent because what’s the point of being an ally if you don’t do anything to help and support others? I will use my voice and my platform to amplify the voices of those who continue to be labeled as cop haters, thugs, terrorists, and countless other harmful, degrading slurs that only apply to the extremists that also happen to identify with that minority identity.
To my friends and family who immediately response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement with “All lives matter,” please please please realize that the purpose of this movement is NOT to say that black lives matter more than any other group. There is an implicit “too” at the end of the phrase. Black people are fighting to be recognized and treated as human beings, too. If you need further explanation on the logic behind this movement, please follow this link and educate yourself more about it before you continue to tear them down. http://blacklivesmatter.com
Also, if you still don't fully understand why "All Lives Matter" is an inappropriate response, please watch this video.
Credit: Buzzfeed Video
To my friends and family who are hurt and saddened by the senseless murder of the five police officers in Dallas, please know that everyone, including those involved in the BLM movement, is feeling the same. They were not killed by the protestors there. This was not their fault. It is possible to be pro-cop AND pro-black; the two are not mutually exclusive. I have nothing but the utmost respect for police officers. It's an extremely difficult and taxing job and someone has to do it. But, just like with every group, there are outlying extremists, and I believe there needs to be a little more accountability for those extremists. The five men who died in Dallas died protecting fundamental human and American rights, what they swore to do from their first day on the job. There is extreme honor in that and, trust me, that will not soon be forgotten.
To my friends and family (and prominent media outlets) who continuously post or say anything that generalizes an identity based on actions of the prominent and often extremist people who consistently make headlines, please know that you are only making the issue worse.(i.e. "Liberals are at fault," "Muslims should be on the no-fly list," "All conservative are corrupt") By accusing all liberals or conservatives or Muslims or black people, etc., you are glorifying the actions of extremists and harming more and more innocent lives. If you wish to express your anger with a certain person or small group of people, specifically identify them rather than generalizing the actions of one to the whole. We will never see the kind of progress that we dream of so long as we continue engaging in this harmful and destructive behavior.
There is a lot of hatred and fear in this world right now. This is not the America I remember growing up in. This is not the America I want to someday raise children in. History is repeating itself and the work of so many brave and valiant souls may be all in vain. We have the power to stop that from happening. Open up a history book and read about what was happening in the world from 1920 to 1960. The similarities will make you feel odd and should scare you. But the time is now and the day is here. We can change the course of this world if we promise to be a little bit kinder, a little bit smarter, and a little bit bolder.
We cannot stay silent any longer. While our brothers and sisters of color continue to be oppressed, we must use our voices to amplify theirs and continue to break down the barriers of hatred and fear that have been built up by those before us.
To the friends and family of the lives senselessly taken this week, we stand with you. We share in your grief, though we cannot fully understand it. We share in your anger, and we promise to fight so that no one else should have to feel what you’re feeling right now.
“Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes.”- Les Miserables