The recent tensions and tragedies between the African American community and law enforcement have gotten increased media coverage over the past few months. However, tensions between African American people and police is nothing new, and police brutality in the African American community is nothing new. Social media, being a fairly new invention in the grand scheme of things, is just being used as a new tool to get information out to the masses quickly. We’ve seen live streaming videos showing police brutality, and even murder, as they happen. For the most part, the public has been horrified and outraged by these tragedies. Still, there are some who make excuses for police overreach by trying to justify the actions of these officers. To make matters worse, there are some who imply that it is wrong to say Black Lives Matter, because All Lives Matter.
Now, please know that I agree and understand that all lives truly do matter. No matter your race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or any other identity: your life matters. We all know that all lives matter. There is no need to walk around chanting something that is obvious to all. No one marches down your street chanting “Water is wet!” There is no need to do this, because we all know that water is obviously wet. So why do some people feel the need to march and protest while chanting “Black Lives Matter” you ask? Because it is apparent that not everyone knows this, specifically law enforcement and those who wholeheartedly support them, despite the fact that there are some officers who abuse their power. Don’t get me wrong – I support law enforcement, and I know that there are a lot of good officers out there who just want to get home safely to their families at night. I believe that this is the majority of our country’s police officers. However, let’s not pretend that there are not some police officers who are harming and even killing citizens without justifiable cause. We can support law enforcement while still supporting justice and equality. I believe that there are some people out there who believe you can either support police officers OR you can support Black Lives Matter, but not both – this is simply not the case. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and I support what is right.
Saying that #AllLivesMatter is pointless and redundant because we all know and recognize that all human life has meaning. But when you have dozens of African Americans mysteriously dying while in police custody, police body cameras that mysteriously stop working when African Americans die during a police stop, and these police officers being put on administrative leave with pay while they await their not-guilty verdict, it is obvious that black lives do not matter to some. This has nothing to do with respecting authority or respecting the law, because in most of these cases, the citizens who were stopped by police were not breaking the law. That is the reason for all the outrage. I never understood why whenever a police officer is killed, it’s a national tragedy, but when a regular, African American citizen is killed by a police officer, there are some who are quick to come up with excuses to justify it. The loss of a life, no matter whose life it is, should be treated as a tragedy, and not just a consequence.
I do not want to have to worry about my African American child being killed by a police officer, or anyone else for that matter, simply because of the color of their skin. But this is a fear that I, and many other Black mothers and fathers, live with every single day. It is a sad, sad world that we live in when we have to worry about things like this. I often fear that my son will not make it into adulthood because of a routine stop with a cop – but this is our reality. As children, we used to be taught that police officers are good, are our friends, and are here to help. I now have to teach my child what to do and what not to do to survive an encounter with the police.
To minimize the #BlackLivesMatter movement by saying All Lives Matter is offensive, dismissive, and it makes those who support the movement feel like the cause is not being understood or heard. How can we expect change when so many people are unwilling to recognize the need for change? You may think that it goes without saying that black lives matter, but the actions of our legal system show otherwise. And yes, we know and recognize that Black-on-Black violence and murder is also a huge problem in this country. But what does that have to do with police officers murdering African Americans? What does one problem have to do with the other? That’s like saying we cannot fight terrorism because there is too much crime among the locals. Sounds ridiculous, right?
The Black Lives Matter movement was not created to minimize the importance of the lives of others who are not black - it’s #BlackLivesMatter, not #OnlyBlackLivesMatter. But until African American people are not being gunned down in cold blood in the streets by overzealous police officers, we all need to continue to stress to our government, our judicial system, and most importantly to our law enforcement officials, that Black Lives Matter.
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