When I was 20 years old I got shot!
Not took a shot…I got shot…with a gun.
I wasn’t shot by a police officer. In fact, it was police officers who were trying to help me on that evening. It is through this lens that I ‘ve tried to process the violent events that we have seen in our country over the past few days. My emotions have ranged from sorrow to rage to hopelessness.
Police officers are not our enemies. Police officers go to work daily with the goal of protecting the public from the evils that exist in our communities. They are men and women like us who want to make it home to their families at night. However, like us, they are also human. Because they are human they have been exposed to the many racial biases and prejudices that are prevalent in our society. These biases and prejudices can overtake judgment in certain situations and lead to fatal outcomes. While it is true that some cops are racist, they are not any more racist than the janitor, the lawyer, or even the gardener. The good news is the vast majority of police officers aren’t racist and don’t seek to abuse their power. And their lives matter. They shouldn’t be shot down like dogs in heinous acts of violence because that won’t eradicate racial bias and prejudices.
Black lives also matter. They don’t matter more than any other lives. They just want to matter equally to other lives. Black men should not have to die at the hands of those that are paid to protect them. Denying them due process under the law is to offer them second class citizenship which is an ongoing problem. Alton Sterling was selling CDs in front of a store. Alton Sterling is dead. Philando Castile was riding in a car with his family and got pulled over for a “busted tail light.” Philando Castile is dead. Dylan Roof executed 9 African-Americans in a South Carolina Church. Dylan Roof is still alive. I suppose for many it may still be difficult to see the problem. Perhaps it would be easier if you switched the race of all parties involved in each scenario to truly understand.
So what’s the answer to this troubling problem? I don’t have one, but I’m going to start with love. It’s all that I can think to do. If we can simply love one another, it gives us a good start. From love comes so many other actions like reasoning with one another, listening to one another, valuing one another. From there,we can begin to dive into some of the more complex questions – how do we permanently stop senseless deaths in our community, protect our communities from evil, and eradicate hate? Certainly we can continue with protests, marches, and boycotts to call attention to our struggle, but each of you can start with love. We are all charged to do our part to make things better. Those of us that have chosen the journey of curing the societal ills that plague us through public policy will continue to look for a cure, much like medical researchers are looking for cures from some of the deadliest diseases that plague us. Hopefully, together, we can find a way.
Black lives matter. How do I know? Because God spared mine so I can share and live my truth.