I have seen so many social media posts and articles claiming that all black people want to kill cops or believe that “blue lives” don’t matter, and honestly, I’m sick of it. Black Lives Matter does not mean that blue lives don’t matter. It means, stop killing us!
When I advocate against police brutality, I am not questioning or demeaning police officers’ humanity. I am not speaking against their existence or placing them below me. When someone says that Black Lives do not Matter, however, they are actively demeaning my existence and placing themselves higher than me.
I was raised to trust cops. Throughout my whole life, I have had the privilege of residing in a safe and primarily white town where cops do not regularly feel threatened by the people who live there. When I walked by police officers at night, I would immediately feel safe and protected from all potential threats. I never questioned police officers’ actions; it seemed like common sense. Respect the cops and they’ll respect you back. Treat others how you want to be treated. Easy.
My experiences are different from people who live in majority-minority cities. I have the privilege of living in a town and attending a school that is not heavily affected by systematic racism; however, plenty of other people do not. Just because I do not see the worst parts of injustice firsthand, does not mean that I can be blind to it.
As a sheltered teenager, my initial response to Mike Brown’s death in 2014 was that the cop was just doing his job. I thought that Mike probably challenged or threatened him, and as a result, Mike got what he deserved. But that was short lived. As I educated myself on the pattern of police brutality against people of color, watched a plethora of videos, and heard firsthand accounts of police brutality -- from Rodney King’s death to Philandro Castille -- I felt that there was no choice but to stand up for human rights.
When I watch these nauseating videos both on social media and the news of people who look just like me, my brother, my father, or my mother, getting killed even after a mere traffic stop, I will, understandably, feel afraid of police officers. I do not have the right to use this fear to attack police officers, just like some people use their fear of certain races or religions as a right to attack that race or religion.
I, as well as most people that I know who support Black Lives Matter, am not attempting to create a “War on Cops.” This pseudo war is a ploy to cover up the huge human rights issues that our country has to resolve. The argument that all black lives matter supporters are trying to kill all cops, and therefore the focus needs to be on the safety of the cops over the safety of people of color at the hands of cops, is ridiculous.
Shootings against police officers are the result of delusional and wrong-minded individuals, who probably would have committed a crime at some point in their lives. The fact that potentially innocent police officers are getting murdered is a tragedy. But what is just as tragic is the fact that these deaths are being used to rationalize the ignorance of human rights.
Shootings against people of color at the hands of police officers are the result of our country’s slow legislative progress from when discrimination was still legal. This brutality is directly the result of the War on Drugs, for example, which a Nixon aide admits to it being a tool to target and villainize black people. The cops do a fine job protecting white citizens, so I would like them to do a better job protecting people of color as well, instead of exercising unnecessary brutality in controlled situations.
If you are objected to “Black Lives Matter”, ask yourself why. The counterargument of, “the movement is attempting to create a war on cops,” is incredibly invalid. Every movement or group has some extremists that do not represent the majority view of that group (Muslims: ISIS, White Christians: KKK, Humans: Murderers, just to name a few.) The goal of the movement, evident in the name, is to assert that black lives should be treated equally to white lives in the criminal justice system.
The numbers prove that we just are not at that point yet: black people are FIVE times more likely to be jailed for the same crime as white people. NAACP states that, “Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.”
There are thousands of websites and resources, from the Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream brand) website to websites like raceforward.org. that can tell you the ways that racism has been systematized and legalized within the criminal justice system. Stories of negative experiences with cops aren’t “black people whining about nonsense,” they’re concrete results of a flawed criminal justice system.
Just because you cannot relate to these experiences does not mean that they are not real and valid. In fact, you believing that these experiences and claims aren’t real, prove just how differently races are treated in the eyes of the criminal justice system; stories of brutality are common among people of color, and are sometimes discredited among non-people of color because they seem too bizarre to be true. However, they’re true, and they’re what we have to deal with every single day.
I want to be able to feel protected when I walk by police officers. I want to be able to call the police when my car breaks down without fearing that they would find a way to make me guilty of something, I want to be able to call the police if someone were to ever break into my house.
Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I feel more threatened than protected by police officers. I chant, “Black Lives Matter” because I want to feel protected by them. I want to be able to trust them. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I want people of color to be given the benefit of the doubt. I want the poor relationship between people of color and police officers to be fixed. However, those who are against Black Lives Matter are preventing this relationship from making any improvements. Those people are upholding our country’s racist systems.
So no, I am not apart of this “War on cops” and frankly, almost no one is. Don’t let the few mindless murderers blind you from the millions of people who are suffering from our country’s systematic racism, and are simply asking that they be treated equally as white people. America is not a post-racist society.
Martin Luther King’s speech was only 70 years ago. That was sooner than my grandparents’ birth. You cannot deny that our country still has a lot of work to do regarding race and inclusivity.
Don’t cover up our country’s racism by creating this idea of a “War on cops”. Instead of investing your time in ignoring black people’s cries for equal treatment, ask yourself, do YOU believe that black lives matter? Yes, all lives matter blah blah blah. That’s besides the point.
Can you say, “yes, black lives matter.” without needing to justify yourself?
If you can’t, and therefore do not believe that black lives matter, then you have no right to claim that “racism doesn’t exist” because you are actively on the side of the racist oppressor.
I am not here to attack, I just ask that you allow yourself to absorb the true meaning and purpose of Black Lives Matter.