Another week in America and another week with a video of an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, being killed by police. The commonality of this epidemic is beginning to have a numbing effect. Our propensity for violence as a nation is again on full display.
Again white America sits back and says, “wait for all the facts.” You know why we say that? Because it isn’t our brother, father, son, or best friend laying in a pool of his own blood, its someone else’s. It’s not even someone who looks like us, so we don’t even make the basic human connection. We don’t associate the death of a black man with the world that we live in, so we can simply ignore it.
The same arguments will come back around this time “If you don’t do anything wrong you won’t get killed.” or “He had a record.” and my personal favorite “What about Chicago?” These arguments can be drilled down to one simple screwed up but common line of racist thinking, “Blacks are savages, most are criminals, so he deserved it.”
I have no idea the struggles of being black in America, and I would never claim as much. I also don’t know the stresses of being a police officer in today’s society. That isn’t what this article is about at all.
How can we so undervalue human life that actual video of a murder somehow doesn’t provoke us to action, or even sympathy?
In fact, it polarizes us even more! That we have allowed the killing of unarmed black men in this country to become a debatable issue, is one of the most damning statements against American society today. No matter the clothing color of the person pulling the trigger.
I guess I shouldn’t be shocked; it’s not as though this is a new problem in America. What we are seeing is just a continuation of centuries of white America turning a blind eye, to not only racism but the literal extermination of black citizens. This backward way of thinking isn’t genetic; it’s passed down from generation to generation through thoughts, words, actions and lack thereof. Systemic racism is alive and well in every generation. If you don’t believe that, take a trip to a suburban neighborhood, an inner-city school, or just about any house of worship. The one thing you will notice is that segregation, while illegal, is still commonly practiced and strictly enforced.
This bullshit call that “all lives matter!” that so many unaffected white people use is immediately proven to be a lie. If all lives really mattered, we would be doing something to protect black lives. If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t be a country that has turned to despise immigrants. If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have a major presidential candidate who draws cheers for saying we should ban refugees. If all lives mattered, children, elderly, veterans, the homeless, and countless others wouldn’t go to bed at night, hungry, abused and without medical care.
So the question is, what will it take for black lives to matter to you?
Will it take a black friend or coworker being shot and killed in front of you? Will it take you witnessing first hand the execution of a human life just because of the color of their skin? Will it take your child being involved in a volatile or deadly police encounter for the simple crime of having a black friend or teammate? Then will only that one life matter, or will you finally understand the overarching issue?
Many will say “The cop that killed Terence Crutcher has been charged with manslaughter, what more can I do?” While I think that is a good start, it doesn’t scratch the surface of the dozens of police officers who have walked away unscathed, without even the slightest repercussions other than a few days of paid time off. As we have seen far too often, an indictment doesn’t mean a conviction.
We all need to support police; I am not saying anything different. However, we must also recognize that they wield a certain amount of power and responsibility that has been entrusted to them by us. When that power and responsibility is abused, used improperly or disproportionately, we need to confront that. At the very least we must be willing to question it.
The callousness that follows these events is mind-boggling. The comments on social media are enough to make me physically ill. I am sure a few will pop up around this article. What drives so many to be so uncaring and cold? How can someone be so cavalier in their ignorance and prejudice?
The timewarp that this nation has been caught in over the last year and a half is disturbing. We seem to have drifted back to in time. To a place where open bigotry and hatred is accepted again. It scares the hell out of me to think that this could be permanent, or even made worse, depending on the outcome of the November elections.
So white America, when are you going to hold the value of black lives in a higher regard than you do the family dog? When are you going to recognize that the grief and sorrow that impacts black neighborhoods, are the same emotions that you feel? When are you going to hold the police to the same standards when they encounter a black man as you do when they are dealing with you or your children?
When you’re saying the pledge or singing the national anthem, the words and the meaning don’t just apply to you. The ideals of this nation, its laws, its greatness, apply to everyone. In the eyes of American justice, everyone is supposed to be treated the same; that is who we are.
At least that’s who we intended to be.
Photo: Getty Images