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September 20, 2016

Another Black Man has Died—does anyone care?

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“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

.

All lives matter.

This is a statement that is used to counter the black lives movement—but if all lives truly mattered, then why would it make a difference if we focus on black lives right now?

This past summer, we saw protests breaking out when black men were violently and unjustly killed by police officers. Yet, as time went on, eventually it seemed we stopped being so mad.

We became silent once again as the bodies of these men were lowered into the ground.

We found other things to distract us: Pokémon Go, the Olympics or the latest iOS update from Apple.

We stopped shouting in the streets that Black Lives Matter, and instead began accepting the bland complacency that comes from giving up.

The thing is though, this issue isn’t going away.

We have not yet delved into the issue far enough, to see what’s really going on, so that we may understand and then try to solve the reason behind these police shootings.

And until we do, we will continue to see black men being shot and killed for no other reason than the color of their skin.

Yesterday, we saw another victim fall in this silent war against black men, when Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by white police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Crutcher’s vehicle had stalled in the road when police out on another call happened to pass by. Officers had reported that the victim had failed to put his hands up prior to the shooting yet the dashboard video shows otherwise.

In the video—moments before Crutcher lost his life on an empty Oklahoma highway—the police can be heard saying that “…this guy looks like a bad dude…” But why? Because he had his hands on his head? Because he was wearing a white t-shirt and grey sweatpants? Or simply because he was black?

Police chief Chuck Jordan stated that at the time of the shooting, no weapons were found on Crutcher or in his vehicle, and that they are determined to bring justice to this case with possible criminal charges or civil rights violations.

But that won’t bring back the life of Terrence Crutcher—and it’s not going to create the movement of change that we as a country so desperately need in order to create a lasting revolution regarding race.

The real issue is that until we acknowledge there is still a divide, we will never be able to truly build a bridge closing the gap on racial injustices once and for all.

There is a difference in growing up white in this country, versus growing up black, and as much as I despise these labels, they still exist whether I like it or not.

The reality is that white boys are not taught to be cautious of police; they don’t grow up knowing that at any time someone could end their life simply because of their skin color.

Recently, a friend of mine shared a story of the gift that her brother received for his most recent birthday. In light of the current times, his mother had given him his own dashboard camera, in case he was ever pulled over.

This is not a gift that white mothers bestow upon their baby boys, because they live under the assumption that not only do their lives matter, but they are precious as well.

The reality of the time we live in is that we are divided. We are divided by race, by class and by fear. We are not evolving further away from distinct racial groups, but instead, we’re letting ourselves slide backwards into the disgrace and outdated pretense of racial boundaries.

I don’t want this to be an issue of race. I don’t like having to point out the victim was black and the officers were white—but just because I don’t like, it doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

And that’s the thing, no I’m not comfortable saying that this is a race issue—but I am still making the choice to stand up for what is right, even if it means no one is standing by my side.

Just because I am white doesn’t mean that this is an issue that doesn’t concern me. If I choose silence, then it would be the same as giving my consent, because this is an issue of humanity—one that everyone, regardless of ethnic background, should be concerned with.

But we can’t wait for another death to start caring again.

We can’t wait until another family is robbed of their husband or father, and we can’t wait until we become so despondent we then become outraged.

Being angry won’t solve this problem, and neither will our fists.

We can’t fight violence with guns.

The only way for us to conquer the racial demons that we are still fighting against is by raising our hearts, so that we might speak and act through love—not by denying the truth, but by embracing it.

We need to understand that we are all connected, and that we aren’t the color of our skin but the quality of our character. We have immense power as the collective, but we have to make the choice to stop letting differences divide us, and instead look for the reasons that we should come together.

All lives matter. Black lives matter.

You and I matter.

No one else in this world was born with precisely the same gifts that each of us were, and only by realizing that greatness lies within each one of us, will we finally be able to recognize the greatness in others.

Black lives shouldn’t only matter when a life is lost.

It shouldn’t take senseless killing to see the need for peace.

We are so much more than the pigments that make up the complexities of who we are—we are souls, and only by coming together can we truly make a difference.

 

~

Author: Kate Rose

Image: Twitter @hipster_andre

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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