What do you say when words will no longer suffice? I’m asking myself this question as I stare at this blank box, cursor blinking, silently cursing and hurting this morning. I’m not sure where to start, but I’m here and I have a voice and I’m going to try.
Black lives matter. Please don’t stop reading.
Police lives matter. Please don’t stop reading.
The problem lies within the fact that we are somehow deduced down to catchy phrases and hashtags. The problem is that humanity and compassion are replaced with rage and anger. I get it, I’m mad, too. I’m mad at the police officers who murdered Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I’m mad at the coward(s?) who murdered and injured police officers in Dallas last night. Let me be clear — I can be angry about both. I can love and hurt and demand better from this country concerning both issues. It is not mutually exclusive that I do not support law enforcement if I am outraged about Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile. It is not mutually exclusive that I do not respect black lives if I am outraged about the five officers fatally wounded last night.
All of that being said, I am still not sure where to start. Part of me wants to stop right here because I’ve already made people I love and care about angry and uncomfortable. But, that will not do anymore. I have more privilege than I can properly convey and it is my duty to use my voice for those who comply and still die. It is my duty to use my voice for those who believe deeply, like I do, that everything that happened this week (ALL 3 instances) is a heinous tragedy, and that lives shall not be ranked above others based on skin color, religious views, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, or job. It is my duty to love you relentlessly if you vehemently disagree with me and Lord (oh, Lord), I am trying.
Alton Sterling’s children lost their Father this week.
Philando Castile’s daughter watched him die.
12 officers were shot, 5 killed, protecting a peaceful protest of the aforementioned incidents. The suspects were not associated with Black Lives Matter or the protest, just to be clear.
Because I don’t know the names of the officers, I cannot say them, but I would. Those 5 human beings did not go home last night, just like Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile didn’t. Just like 49 people in Orlando last month. Human beings are killing other human beings at a rate the mind cannot process and for what? For us to not have the hard conversations about the obvious and rampant inequalities in this country? For us to not have real conversations about gun laws? For us to sit back in our cozy homes and hope that it never comes for us? Surely not. I can’t accept that.
What’s been brewing in this country isn’t new. It didn’t come with your discomfort of a black President, or your realization that white folks may not be the “majority” anymore. It didn’t just appear because this little white girl from a 99.9% white town in eastern Kentucky decided to write a blog about it. If you study history, and even if you don’t, research the year 1968. The year everything changed. The year that shaped our country for decades to come. My Mother and Father were younger than me that year, but this is the year of my generation. 2016, for better or worse, will likely be the year that shapes the world for my nieces and nephews and my future children For your children. For our entire country and maybe the world. I don’t feel like that is off point or conjecture and if you do, you are no student of History.
My heart is broken because I don’t have any answers, but I am with you. If YOU are for ending the sickening loss of life in this country and having a real, logical, fruitful conversation about it, I am with you. If YOU are for sharing memes on social media that generalize all black folks or all police officers, or basically any group of people, I am not with you. If you are angry this morning ONLY about Dallas and not about the previous two days, I am not with you. I want to meet you somewhere, but I can’t until we can agree that every life lost is precious and worth outrage.
Maybe I have said nothing of value here. Maybe we know each other on a personal level and I’ve made you angry or hurt you. Please know that I love you, but I will no longer stand by while we hit our faces for only certain people dying and have radio silence because the person in the news earlier that day doesn’t look like you. I will not stand by and be called a police hater, because nothing could be further from the truth. I will not stand by and be marginalized because I do not agree with the masses where I live, nor will I ever be quiet for those who are REALLY marginalized ever again. If that is somehow inconvenient for you, then perhaps our social media relationship should end here. If it’s not and we still disagree, I welcome you.
More than anything, I am just so sincerely sorry this keeps happening. I am so sorry and I believe with every fiber of my being that we deserve better.