I don’t know what to say anymore, but I don’t want to be silent either.
A year ago I wrote this, which started out as a review of the movie Straight Outta Compton, but it naturally turned into an indictment of police brutality against black people. Another year has passed and today my social media feed is filled with news of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was pinned to the ground by police and shot dead. Philando Castile being shot by police during a traffic stop. I watched the video. It is horrifying. (In the day it took me to finish writing this, I had to update the information above to reflect the latest police shooting of a black man.)
I remember seeing the video of Rodney King being beaten by police 25 years ago. I remember being shocked that it happened. I remember being more shocked that the police officers went unpunished. In 25 years, nothing has changed except that I am no longer shocked. Still horrified, but not shocked. It doesn’t matter that these murders are caught on video. The police are killing with impunity and people can yammer about #AllLivesMatter as much as they want, but police are killing black people, specifically. All lives aren’t at stake here; Black lives are.
I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I don’t know where I fit into this discussion. My whiteness protects me. I have never felt fear when being pulled over by police. I can drunkenly approach a couple of cops and ask them about their weapons and they will answer me and chuckle.
Then I thought about how I feel when a man calls himself a feminist and speaks out against campus rape culture. Do I appreciate his involvement or do I think, “That’s great that you care, but you will never understand the vulnerability that comes with being a woman”? Both, I guess. Maybe if more men became involved in the discussion, the focus would be on how not to rape rather than how not to be raped. Maybe if more white people become involved in this discussion we can shift the focus back to the real problem: the police.
Why should my black friends have to teach their children how not to get shot by police? That’s like teaching our daughters how not to get raped. Stop putting the onus on the victim!
Dear fellow white people, please just ask yourself this question: “What have I told my children about the police?” Have you told them that if they are ever lost, they should look for a police officer to help them? Now take a minute and ask your black friends what they have told their children about the police. (If you don’t have any black friends, watch this.)
There is a problem with the police in this country. We need to fix it. If we don’t, this country is going to explode. I’m old enough to remember the Los Angeles riots after the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted. If we don’t stop this insanity soon, the whole country is going to burn.
Nobody has the luxury of ignoring this any longer. I don’t care what race you are. This affects all of us. I don’t know what to do. I have no fucking idea. All I can do is talk about it. All I can do is tell you I care about what’s happening. I will continue to have uncomfortable conversations about white privilege. I will keep challenging the idea that we live in a post-racial society just because we have a black president. I will keep stating what should be obvious: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
I won’t be silent because silence implies acquiescence. I don’t want there to be any doubt about whose side I’m on.