Despite living 4,000 miles from the United States right now, I cannot help but read and feel the increased racial tensions back home. Earlier this month, police fatally shot Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, respectively. These names are two more added to the list of African-American victims of police brutality. Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice also are on the list. In 2015, police killed 100+ unarmed black people…so let’s talk: Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter – Let’s Focus on Them
I am a firm believer in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Furthermore, I do not believe police brutality against the black community is a new problem. With the growth of social media and cell phone recordings, people now simply posses the tools for documentation. Police brutality against blacks is a real problem. You cannot tell me that if a white man is caught running a red light or selling cigarettes outside a store that he would be shot and killed. The core of the BLM is to draw attention to these disparities and end the systematic racism against blacks.
But Wait…Don’t All Lives Matter?
Of course. The BLM movement is not advocating black lives are on a higher pedestal than others. It is simply to fight for the equalization of black lives to white lives. No person should fear being shot for running a red light or their child killed for holding a toy gun. And especially not at the hands of those whose job it is to serve and protect. Saying “All Lives Matter” negates the fact this problem is unique to the black community. The phrase tries to turn the movement away from those who need it. Talking about racial injustice may make people uncomfortable…that’s okay. Part of being an ally and understanding the complex layers of this problem is recognizing when privilege exists.
Be Angry, But Not Violent
Complicating matters and furthering racial tensions, are the recent targeted shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Do I understand why people are angry and frustrated at the racial injustices…yes. Is violence the answer? No. Violence against good cops protecting the BLM right to protest is absolutely wrong. A vast majority of the BLM movement advocate for working together peacefully and condone officer shootings. Supporting and advocating for black lives does not mean being anti-cop.
Be an Ally
We need reform in America. We read about slavery and Jim Crow Laws as part of our history. However, this is 2016. We have not reached true equality yet in our policing and criminal justice system. I hope one day soon we find a medium that involves policing without stereotyping, racial injustice, and excessive violence.
We need transparency. We need integrated police forces. And furthermore, we need conversations about diversity. We need to open our minds to different kinds of people and be able to openly talk about race. It might be uncomfortable but we cannot shy away from these issues or they will continue to plague our communities. Stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. Stand up when you see injustice. You can be an ally whether you are white, Asian, Hispanic, or black.