Whose Lives Matter?

I am writing this post as I look on CNN for the latest coverage on the Milwaukee protests and hear people in the next room bashing Black Lives Matter. Some conversation in regards to people blaming racism on what is simply gun violence. Someone shooting somebody else, and the other person simply shooting back.

There is no easy way to talk about this protest movement no matter what side you stand on or what your background and ethnicity are. I always feel unqualified addressing this topic when I’m a young white female living in the small-town Midwest. I have personally never been in a situation where I worried about my race. I have never been in a room where I was the only white person. I haven’t even been pulled over by the police (knock on wood).

So when I try to relate to the countless people affected and angered by this situation that stems itself through various American cities, I find it very difficult. Some people try and put themselves into a position they really don’t understand (like an attempt at All Lives Matter). Instead, I look at it from an outside perspective as both a violence and race issue. And while African Americans are the focus, I think the lessons we can learn from all of this are universal to all people and treating each other with respect.

Anybody still remember the Trayvon Martin case? The very beginnings of Black Lives Matter? There have been so many people affected, we see the names and faces blending together, forgotten.

I feel like it’s a very automatic response for the common population to feel uneasy about law enforcement. Ideally, we should be looking to law enforcement as people with integrity, those who work very hard to uphold justice. Which they certainly do, but we also see some major flaws in the system. Revenue tends to become a focus over public safety in many eyes, filling quotas rather than looking out for citizens. Law enforcement is also lacking when it comes to racial diversity, leading to bias. And because people emphasize the flaws in law enforcement, it drives diversity away. They become weary and suspicious. American police in general kill far too many people in the line of duty.So there’s a reason armed black people approach the police in anger and frustration as the media highlights the young African Americans shot for no good reason. We need federal standards and certification for police conduct. And we need more education and regulations on gun usage, returning to a place where a gun becomes the ultimate last resort.

We also have a problem with racial profiling and micro-aggression. The latter term I didn’t even know existed until earlier this year, our subtle stereotypes and jabs that aren’t necessarily out of dislike, but simply from ignorance and misunderstanding. Why do police seem to more often search African Americans compared to white people? They make assumptions. Even though we have made significant progress when it comes to racial equality and acceptance, we have a very long way left to go. These mentalities have endured with us since the Enlightenment Age. We see more African Americans who are in poverty and/or uneducated because they lack the support they need. If statistics show black people committing more crimes than other races, we have to be proactive and ask ourselves, “Why is this? And what can we do to alleviate that?”

But we make just as many assumptions about police officers.We see images of the police all over media. Visualize a typical police officer, and it’s oftentimes a white man who enjoys frequent breaks of coffee and donuts, who pulls over and investigates anybody he sees and lacks compassion. Certainly recent developments in Black Lives Matter isn’t helping their reputation. It’s a lot of pressure being in a law enforcement position. Mistakes are inevitable in any profession, but when it involves protecting the lives of others, little missteps add up, and they aren’t easy or ethically sound to hide. If the police make an effort to improve their practices, we have to reflect in our own behavior toward them. Praise their progress when they make it, abide by their standards. There’s a reason we have law enforcement, and it’s a two-way street. Crime rates increase when people want to retaliate against the police and make a statement, but if the police show efforts to change, we need to do the same.

A powerful question. And at this rate, they have a very good reason to ask. It’s time the police start responding instead out of defense, but in proactive action toward lasting change.

We’re basically at war with one another. Again, unless we do something, it will continue to be a back and forth battle, an eye for an eye that will never be satisfied. Because ultimately that’s not where we find justice. We will find justice when we develop more respect for everyone, along with more effective law enforcement policies. The media will always cling to the mistakes of either party, but it’s up to the people in how they respond Violent protests will certainly make the news, but they prove that little change is resulting from them. The frequency of said protests are getting to a point that they’re so common, any effectiveness from them is dwindling. They’re a go-to reaction to any tragedy involving a white cop and a dead black civilian. We barely question it anymore. We’re expecting it. But if we can draw so many people to crowd and riot in the streets, why can’t we draw these people toward other approaches?

I’m all for peaceful tactics for addressing the issues. Bring together communities, police officers and people from all walks of life, to discuss how to cross over the divides, view the problems from every angle and perspective, and consider all suggestions to propose a collective solution.

It’s very hard to pinpoint one exact solution when Black Lives Matter encompasses many societal flaws that don’t just disappear overnight. We hear the opinions from every side, often conflicting each other in who is to blame. The flaws and frustrations have amassed to our current situation over many years, and it will take many more years to possibly see a day where crimes and violence are at an all-time low for all races. And we’ll never agree on the best way to address it, but we have to do something. Another missed opportunity is another innocent life we lose. Black Lives Matter, so let’s prove that statement true.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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