Trying To Make Sense Of It All


Police LivesMatter

This past week has been, by all accounts, another very low moment in our nation’s history. First there was a police shooting of a man at point blank range apparently for selling CD’s near a local store in Baton Rouge. Followed not a day later by a Minnesota police officer pulling over a couple for having a busted tail light on their car and then shooting & killing the driver as he reached for his car registration. In both cases, the men killed were black. In both cases the police officer who fired the gun was white. In both cases, both men who were shot were “thought” to have had a gun on their person. This, in turn, led to the shooting of 12 police officers and 2 civilians at a peaceful demonstration in Dallas by a former military veteran who had served in Afghanistan. 5 of the officers died from their wounds. All were caucasian.

There have been many media reports, many online investigations, many social media posts and much conversation about what has happened. I have personally been a part of several conversations. Some have said it’s all about guns. Some have said its all about race. One friend I talked to thinks it’s about money. I believe it’s a little of all of these things. It IS about guns. It IS about race. And it IS about money. This country, in many ways, is angry. We have become angry because of all of the above. But today I read something that was reposted by a friend on Facebook that was written by TNT sports analyst, David Aldridge, and it was perfect.

The following is what was written by Mr. Aldridge on his Facebook page on Friday, July 8, 2016…

sports_journalist_David_Aldridge

“What’s on my mind, asks Facebook.

Well…

Something simple, really. I would just like us to stop killing each other. That’s all.

We don’t have to love each other, or live with one another, or go to school together, or get married, or share a ride to work, or eat out on Fridays. We don’t have to go to the same church, or root for the same teams, and our kids don’t have to have play dates together. I don’t have to support your political candidates, and you don’t have to support mine. We don’t have to believe in the same God, or any God, and we don’t have to watch the same TV shows, and you don’t have to like my music, and I don’t have to like yours. 

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

The anger in this country is choking us, slowly, like a mutant weed, and it permeates everywhere. I’m a black man, and I am doing better than 99 percent of all black men who’ve ever walked this planet. I’m good. And I’m scared that the next time I’m stopped in my car–for there is always a “next time” for us–a cop is going to look at my skin and pull out his or her gun, and kill me, because they’re scared and they’ve been trained, through history and regulation, to view me as a threat. And I’m terrified that when my two boys get old enough to drive, the same thing could happen to either of them. That makes me angry. When people say “Black Lives Matter,” you know what they’re talking about. Don’t insult me or them by replying “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.” I know that white people are killed by police, too. But the chance of me or my kids getting shot is a lot higher than the chance of you or your kids getting shot.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

 

I saw a video of a police officer in Cleveland, who was crying and upset about the shooting in Louisiana. She was a cop who grew up in the ‘hood, as she said, but stayed in the ‘hood and worked there because she wanted to do good for her community and her people as a black woman. And while she was justifiably angry with the cops who have a “God complex,” as she put it, she also was crying because so many teenage boys of color were shooting and killing each other in her city. Yes, black people know all too well that our young men are shooting one another at an alarming rate, in Cleveland and Chicago and D.C. and communities you don’t know or read about. You don’t have to tell us. We know, because those are our sons and brothers and fathers we’re putting in the ground. And we know that there are lots of reasons that our kids are shooting each other–some our fault, some not. And we decry and protest those killings, every day. That you are not paying attention when we do is not our problem. Some of my black brothers and sisters will say I’m blaming our kids or that I’m a sellout, Uncle Tom, whatever. You can’t do or say anything to me that I haven’t already done or said to myself. I believe I’ve helped some young people see a different path and future, but I think I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, because my young brothers keep shooting one another. But you’ve failed, too. If calling me out of my name gives you comfort, so be it. 

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

A lot of white folks are angry, too. They seem to believe that their country has been taken from them, and they want to take it back. I am not sure who they believe is currently in possession of said country, given the complete lack of wealth in communities of color, and given that women are still paid less than men are at just about every job. But that anger is real and I do not dismiss it or belittle it, for it comes back at me, and my family. I would just like them to understand that, whatever has happened to them or their families, it’s not because black and brown people have taken your jobs or your homes or your money. Trust me. We don’t have them.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

People of faith are angry, because they often believe their faith is twisted and misconstrued and belittled, and because there is a small but potent minority of people in this world who besmirch that faith and hide behind it to commit monstrous acts, in the name of the truly holy. I do not believe terrorists who kill Muslims during Ramadan represent Islam. (The vast majority of people killed by Al Queda and other terrorist groups that say they represent Muslims are other Muslims. That is almost never mentioned.) I do not believe that that young man who walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and murdered those people in cold blood represents all Christians. And the people that killed those cops in Dallas do not represent me. I do not want white police officers killed any more than I wanted Sandra Bland or Philandro Castile or Eric Garner or Michael Brown or Alton Sterling or Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell killed.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

We are all getting played, by an arms industry that has turned inward, and convinces us, through its financial backing of its cowardly elected officials, that we all have to have guns to feel safe. And so we all buy weapons that were designed for fighting in war, and bring them into our homes and communities. And the arms industry–whose only goal is to sell more arms–happily provides the police and the compensating and the insane and anyone else who has the money access to whatever rapidly firing munition that can slaughter dozens of people in a matter of seconds that they want. Do not come to me with your technical distinctions without a difference about “semi-automatic” versus “automatic.” You know these guns are not designed to shoot deer, or skeet. They’re designed to kill people, efficiently and quickly. And just about anyone with a pulse can get one.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

I know who my friends are, and I love them, and they love me. Please feel free to unfollow, or unfriend, if you like. I just can’t take this anymore. I don’t want my children, or yours, to grow up in a world like this.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

“There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.”

–W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939

I love this post because it says so elequently what needs to be said. All of the “Black Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter” back & forth, back & forth. It’s gotten kind of out of control. Of course ALL LIVES MATTER. It’s not really up for debate. Anyone who thinks otherwise has a screw loose. No one should feel worthless. No one should feel alone. But a lot of what is happening is because some people apparently don’t feel that way. It doesn’t matter if you’re holding the gun or not. People DO NOT CARE if you are rich or poor. They DO NOT CARE if you are lonely or in need of help. People, as a whole, do not care. Oh…we will SAY we care. We LOVE to do that. And I’m just as guilty. As I sit in my living room, reading all of the media posts and status updates telling me how much everyone cares about the people who were killed in the shootings in Orlando or the shooting in Baton Rouge or the shootings at Sandy Hook. We all care so much that we post about it and we send prayers for those who were involved but let’s be honest…we’re not REALLY doing anything about it.

We can go on and on about how much we dislike it. Obviously, most of my friends, whether they are black, white, purple, green, whatever color…none of them WANT to get up in the morning and see another horrific account of something else that has happened in another city. Hell…it could be in MY city, for crying out loud. In 2001, a white Cincinnati police officer shot Timothy Thomas, a young black male wanted for non-violent misdemeanors, when he ran from law enforcement. An entire section of the city RIOTED for 4 days, caused millions of dollars of damage, the mayor had to issue a city-wide curfew and brought national attention to police brutality. That was 15 years ago.

Nothing has changed.

Mr. Adlridge’s post is amazing because it’s honest. As a human being, it is within our nature to love, to sympathize, to invest interest, to feel a variety of emotions. It’s who we are. But through experiences that are individualized to each of us, some of that all changes. As an individual being, I am who I am. It starts at a very early age and continues forward from there. The old adage, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” placates what is truthful.

Honestly? I can’t.

I can’t understand what you are going through. Not because I don’t try. Because I CAN try. As I sit here in the comfort of my hotel room, I can TRY to imagine what it is like to be driving down the road and then pulled over for a random traffic violation and then SHOT as I reach for my registration. Or I can TRY to be a small child sitting in a classroom when a crazed gunman comes barging into the room firing an automatic weapon. Or I can TRY to imagine that I’m a police officer rushing into a situation that leaves me with choices I do not want to make. But I’m just being honest when I tell you…it doesn’t matter how much I TRY to put myself in these situations because I have not lived them. There is no way to comprehend the kind of emotions that are involved in such incidents. I have never been in any of these situations and all I can do is pray that I never will.

This does NOT mean that I can’t sympathize. I truly believe that we should ALL be better humans and strive to help one another. But every fucking day I turn on the tv or I read the paper or I see another report on the internet that people are killing one another at an alarming rate. I see another iPhone video of someone killing someone else. I see hate and anger and hostility that I cannot fathom and then I have people I know & love who are suffering, who are angry and hurt. Not because any of those mentioned above incidents happened to them OR to someone they knew. It matters to them because it’s about the color of their skin. It COULD happen to them and that is a reality.

“I would just like us to stop killing one another.”

It’s such a simple thing. It really shouldn’t be so hard and yet…years and years of violence begets violence. When will it end? Maybe that isn’t the question we should all be asking.

Maybe “HOW will it end?” is what we are looking at in our current state of America 2016.

It scares me think that this is what it will come down too. But it seems that we don’t have the common decency or sense to discuss it in a way that is civilized.

How will it end? I can only hope that there is a point very soon when we can all look past our differences and sympathize.

“I would just like us to stop killing one another.” Wanna know what I would rather be said?

How about…”Be human.

Yeah. THAT is what I think we should do. THAT works for me. Wonder if we could give that a try?

SavingBaby

Other posts of interest:

Sunny Sanguinity – “Here’s Why to Resist The “Not All White People and “Not All Cops” Argument & What To Do Instead”

 

“It’s Not Us vs Them”“It’s Not Us vs Them”

Romper.com “People Protecting A Baby”

 

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