Friday, July 8, 2016

Hopeful Fear In America

I can typically walk down the street with my kids without being scared.
I don't need to warn my kids about how to act around anyone besides strangers.
I am privileged and I'm still scared.
Larry Whitmore said, while talking about the absolutely unnecessary death of #AltonSterling, "Thank God for cellphones." Some are still scared and making excuses, but the world can finally see systematic oppression, even if they choose to deny it.
I have a lot of great friends who are great people trying to understand this situation and offering support, condolences, thoughts, prayers or even evidence to make sure more people open their eyes. None of us want to, but we should all be scared.
This fear is how almost half of Americans feel every day. 
This fear has a moronic bigot on the ballot to become President of the United States of America.
This fear has parents warning their children about how to act around police officers. 
This fear has police officers, good and bad, jumpy, protective and insecure. And let's not pretend there aren't bad police officers. When a doctor messes up a surgery and kills someone due to negligence, they are removed from the field and held accountable for their actions. They aren't necessarily bad people, but they made a grave mistake and need to be held accountable for it. Something we rarely question. But when a police officer murders a person on camera, most of our media and half of Facebook blame the person for a criminal background or for not complying. The Bundy militia had loaded guns pointed at officers during their standoff and they had weeks of patience and discussion. But when a black teenager is playing in a park and a bad cop suspects he might have a gun, he's acquitted after shooting him dead.  
#PhilandoCastile was murdered by a bad cop. Maybe he was a good person who made a mistake, but that makes him unfit to wear a badge that is sworn to serve and protect. 
Good cops know this. Good people know this.
If there wasn't such an outcry to protect these bad cops and make fucking ridiculous excuses for them maybe there wouldn't be such a growing divide. Their body cameras didn't both accidentally fall off right before they shot who was pinned on the ground four times, that's an obvious lie, stop lying.
Stop lying.
Own your privilege if you're lucky enough to have it and support those around you. I can't explain it as well as this guy (please read this if you haven't already) but I'll paraphrase his sentiment uncouthly:
No shit all lives matter.
If you feel disregarded by the phrase Black Lives Matter, then you have probably never had to live in fear of your society. I bet that Stanford swimmer rapist asshole thinks All Lives Matter. Black Lives also matter. We should be angry and scared for the black community. We should try to understand how they are oppressed and vilified and how they are American citizens who just want to live in peace and raise their families.
We aren't all the same. Some of us want to be, but we're not. Personally, I don't want to be all the same. I wish we our system treated people the same and offered the same protection and opportunities, but that doesn't mean the same things as "we're all humans, we're all the same." We are all humans, but we all have a history, different families, different levels of education, different skin colors, different friend groups. It would be great if we could celebrate these differences, but we don't really. We typically hide behind them.
Things that are different are scary. Fear isolates.
I'm a middle class educated white guy and I'm scared for the world my kids are going to grow up in. I'm scared because I want them to have the opportunity to play with and learn from people who don't look like us and who weren't raised by us. I want them to give back to their community and spread love through their smiles and interactions.
 Before I get what I want I have to explain why we're different and why we're lucky and why that's so fucked up.
Between the time I started writing this and finished five cops were murdered at a peaceful rally in Dallas. Random cops. Probably good cops. I am already sick at the thought of the blame game and lack of accountability. Their lives were senselessly taken, just like the lives of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and so many others. The former were killed because they were police officers. The latter were killed because they were black men in America. 
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - A really smart guy you've probably heard of and quote once a year on Facebook.
I always try to leave something hopeful in my writing because I'm a generally hopeful person who wants to live a positive life and leave a legacy of love. The only thing I am hopeful for is that more and more people will start to get it. Nobody questions that Blue Lives Matter or that All Lives Matter, so why do we question that Black Lives Matter? That's not a segregationist statement, it is unifying. 
A lot of people are scared of a revolution of some sort, or they don't think it's possible. I think it's necessary. I'm not talking about battles in the streets, but you know damn well those are coming just like in Ferguson, Missouri. I'm talking about neighborhoods, communities, towns, standing together to make changes that make lives better for everyone. Supporting each other by electing officials who care about people more than money. Looking at the broken systems like prisons, elections, drugs, justice and calling for change because it's the right thing to do. 
Morally. Economically. Socially. Patriotically, the right thing to do.
You can be angry and scared and you should be. But look outwardly. Be angry for the victims. Be scared for black men and women and police officers.
But be hopeful. Be supportive. Become educated and demand change.
Open your eyes.
Stop lying.
Light and Love.