Before you get mad, this is not meant to be a political post.
I am just really, really sad, you guys. I am sad and I’m angry. I don’t want to get into a lot of data today; I just kind of want to stream my feelings here.
I’ve also just recently learned that W.E.B DuBois fought really hard to get more writers to capitalize “Black” in their work while he was alive. It was something he really strove for and felt was really important, so I am going to try using it here.
Two Black men are dead in two days after being shot to death by police. Both were legally carrying guns, neither was behaving in a violent or threatening manner. One was legally selling CDs outside a convenience store; the other was pulled over for a broken taillight. They died senselessly and in cold blood. My heart is broken, as are the hearts of those people who knew these men.
I am sadder, though, at the idea that maybe our extremely divided two-party system is preventing us from making real changes to save people’s lives.
Conservatives likely feel a lot of pressure to respond in a socially acceptable way to these types of crises. I think some of them feel socially obligated to respond in a manner that pleases their fellow conservatives: he got himself killed. He shouldn’t have done x, y, or z, and he’d still be alive. This puts liberals on the defensive, ready to strike back. I think many conservatives are really very kind and compassionate people, but the social pressure of their affiliated party makes it difficult for them to show it.
God forbid they say something that isn’t 100% pro-gun, or maybe they say something that makes them sound like a Black Lives Matter ally. That could honestly be social suicide for many social conservatives. I think both parties have knee-jerk reactions that prevent us from being our fully loving, compassionate, problem-solving selves.
Liberals have the same issue. Our knee-jerk, instinctual reaction is to demand justice, to lay into conservative ideology and try to turn it back in their faces. We have to appear vigilant, as though we are always on guard for the next injustice. We get aggressive, sarcastic, and pump out memes like it’s our job. It doesn’t help anyone, and it puts conservatives on the defensive — ready to strike back.
So while we fight with one another, guess what? The criminal justice system does not change. Police protocols do not change, or they change very little. They fail to address systematic racism and classism while we keep fighting with the other party. We need to fight for justice for these Black men and women who have died, because their deaths are indicative of a larger systemic problem that affects all of us.
I absolutely love and admire police officers. I personally feel safer as soon as I see an officer in the mall, at a festival, when I’m alone in a big city. But I am a diminutive, middle-class, educated white woman. The fact that I see police officers this way is indicative of the very privilege that is not afforded to these slaughtered men. (White people die at the hands of cops, too, of course. Just not at the frequency that Black people do)
What can we do to make sure every citizen feels safe around police officers? What can we do to reorganize the police systems so that the first instinct is not to draw a gun and shoot? This is a problem that must be solved. It is taking Black lives and destroying Black families. Guess what? If you’re white, Hispanic, Latino, or Asian, it can destroy your family too. End your marriage, leave your kids without a dad or mom, leave your parents without a child. Mixed marriages and families are a thing. This police brutality epidemic is everyone’s problem.
We need both Democrats and Republicans in order to make change. Republicans, we seriously need you. Few people are more tenacious than most of the conservatives I know. They are staunch and unmoving and if they were to commit to this cause, you bet your ass we’d get shit done! Democrats, we need you! You’re called “bleeding heart liberals” for a reason, for God’s sake. People are dying who were not threats to anyone. People are dying because they were Black or poor or both. This is not okay. We are so focused on arguing with each other, arguing ideology, that we are failing to turn around and scrutinize the systems that govern us.
Attached is a Letter to police department, IAPD, that I sent this morning. It’s very respectful and hopefully invites open dialogue. I’ve attached it to this blog if you want to edit it and send it to your local PD. I highly encourage this, as it allows you to reach out to any police department in your area – or even in the country.
This is not a Democrat problem or a Republican problem. It is our collective problem. Please, look inside your hearts. Try to see beyond the partisan ideologies. Try to see the compassion that you know resides there. See the righteous anger that is sparked within your veins. Write to or call your local police station. Ask them what they’re doing to prevent more senseless deaths. As always, be the change.
P.S. While I’m here, let’s please do a better job of recognizing the terror and carnage that non-white, non-Christian countries go through. Middle Eastern cultures are different than ours. That is OK. Their lost lives still deserve all the mourning and grief in the world. It is okay to pray for Muslims if you’re not Muslim. I’m not saying pray for them to convert to Christianity, either. I’m saying you can pray for them to be safe and have a place to rest, and that wherever they go for refuge, they won’t be targets of hate or violence. Muslims go through that every day and it’s simply not okay. You can pray for all of this. Trust me, you won’t be smoted by the Lord. Smited? Smote? Eh, you get the point.