Over the last week, we’ve been flooded with hostility on the internet and unrest around the country because of events in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota.
Rudy Giuliani, hoping to continue to be relevant, has said Black Lives Matters is a racist organization. Even though Mr. Giuliani is completely wrong, his message resonates. Half of my Facebook feed is filled with the message that we need to do something about black on black crime before we can address police officers shooting black men, because statistics show black on black crime is more of a problem.
Apples: When a black criminal kills another black man, that actor is a criminal engaging in a criminal act.
Oranges: When a police officer, who is sworn to protect the community, escalates a situation and shoots a black man unnecessarily because of bias. This happens. It’s not treated as a criminal act. That’s not treated as a criminal act for two reasons: the color of law cloaked on the police officer and because the person shot was black.
Part of the message Black Lives Matters is sending is that these bad police actors need to be held accountable. A great example of the accountability argument is Laquan McDonald. When Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago Police Officer, it appears other police officers attempted to cover that up by writing bogus reports (and perhaps threatening witnesses and erasing video) about what really happened. Mayor Rahm Emanuel mentioned the blue wall of silence and that police officers must take accountability rather than cover up.
And that is where the Black Lives Matter movement fails: Accountability. There are times a police officer has to shoot and a black man is on the other end of the barrel. There are police involved shootings that are justified. There are times the police are doing their jobs and that job includes using deadly force against criminals in certain situations. That has to be acknowledged.
I find many positives in the BLM movement, including shining a light on police bias, asking for accountability from our police officers and black empowerment. However, the BLM movement could do much more. If black lives matter, then BLM must go into the community to try to stop the bloody carnage within the black community. This war cannot be ignored. If Laquan McDonald’s life matters (and it did) then so does Hadiya Pendleton’s. And the truth is that there are far more Hadiya Pendletons in Chicago, and the United States, than Laquan McDonalds. If we want to address black genocide, focusing on the police saves one life—Laquan McDonald’s. But also focusing on gang related homicides, we now talk about hundreds—if not thousands—of lives. We’ll change the lives of the victim and the life of the person pulling the trigger (and their families).
The carnage on Chicago streets is not normal and cannot be acceptable. BLM has to work to stop it.
Because ultimately, when we shine a light within the police department to show bias exists, we need to start to acknowledge why bias exists.
Some within white America think that a black life is worth less; we value life less. Its evidence: 50 black men, women, and children are being shot on the south and west sides of Chicago during a holiday weekend.
So people come home from work, see news of another 50 black victims at the hands of black men and America comes to the conclusion “Black men are dangerous.” And then the bias we talk about trying to eradicate is compounded.
The truth is that the vast majority of black men are not dangerous. But that is not what the media portrays. We see our faces on television as perpetrators and victims.
But just as all black men are not criminals, all cops are not bad. The vast majority of police officers are good people. And that needs to be acknowledged. Otherwise, we’re just at an impasse where each side is staring at each other, arms crossed, not blinking. That’s where we are right now.
To make matters worse, the media spins the story that it’s us against them. BLM against Police. Take Rudy Giuliani’s talking point away from him. Take that narrative away by partnering with the police.
The irony is both sides have the same interest: to save lives. To do that, we MUST WORK TOGETHER. This is really simple. We need to acknowledge and respect police officers. We need to provide information about criminal activity that occurs in our neighborhoods. We need to partner with police. That’s not happening right now and what IS happening certainly isn’t working for anybody. If we build relationships with police I promise two things will happen: less black lives will be lost by the hands of the police and less black lives will be lost by the hands of other blacks. As a black man who understands bias exists, this is the biggest win/win of all time.
I would love to see a BLM rally with the police. If BLM acknowledges—which it did last week after the horrific murders of five police officers in Dallas—that this is a peaceful movement, then an invitation to rally with police officers (especially in light of last week’s events) only makes sense.
If we want to change this narrative and move toward progress, incorporating and partnering BLM with local police only makes sense. This one is easy folks. Discussion and dialogue with the people we accuse of bias against us, will help change that bias. If BLM wants respect—which it deserves—then it has to give it to the police (which equally deserve respect). Distrust, by pointing fingers, will only lead to more Laquan McDonalds and Hadiya Pendletons. If we want the killing to stop and create a legacy for them, we have to work together.