“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi
1 – If you ever say #AllLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter, you’re most likely a racist, or you enjoy playing the disgruntled contrarian who prefers to marginalize a crucial movement instead of being more open-minded. Neither is a good look. Let’s be clear: Cops Lives have always mattered. White Lives have always mattered. Black Lives have never mattered to a high-percentage of our population. This is not difficult to understand. If your first instinct is to type #AllLivesMatter when black Americans protest against police brutality, then you are part of the problem. What happened to the cops in Dallas was tragic and senseless. People have a right to be outraged and to mourn, nobody wants to see a police officer killed. The difference I typically see on social media is that when a cop is murdered, everyone refers to him/her as a hero. Everyone. And that’s perfectly normal and understandable. Employment as a police officer has never been safer, the stats indicate as much, but a cop has to face a potential threat at every door he knocks on, every car he pulls over. Hero is fine, maybe even accurate. But when Philando Castile and other black citizens are murdered by cops, the narrative takes a barbaric turn. The victim’s past is investigated for criminal activity, gang affiliation, and any other minutia that racists can use to justify his murder. They spend hours online to find one scrap of evidence that will “prove” the victim was a villainous person and probably deserved to be shot. Neanderthal claptrap. In our lovely pale world every murdered cop is an American hero. And ever murdered black person is a worthless thug. We should all be ashamed. We need to be better humans.
2 – Not complying with a police officer should not be a death sentence. Cops are not Gods. Cops are not super-human. They have the same capacity for hate, violence. love, and pacifism as anyone else. You have a right to question the tactics of an abusive officer without fear of taking a bullet in your chest. De-escalation should emphasized more in police training. Too many funerals have taken place because too many officers chose to be trigger-happy. Men in positions of authority can be a foreboding presence, especially when they have a badge, gun, and the rabid support of white society.
3 – You can have respect for police officers while also demanding accountability for their actions. You can do both of these things, they are not mutually exclusive. It’s not about picking a side, it’s about desiring a world where black people aren’t hunted like elk in every major city. Full disclosure: A kind and compassionate police officer went out of his way to help me during a time when hopelessness owned my mind and soul. He is a wonderful human being. But that doesn’t mean I should look the other way when bigoted cops target minorities. And I realize the majority of our police force do exemplary work in our communities. Most cops are good people. But the nefarious ones need to be rooted out and admonished/prosecuted for behaviors that lead to unjust arrests and/or physical harm.
4 – Silence is violence. Silence does not ignite change. Silence is cowardice. If you say nothing about racism, if you witness it in person or on social media and remain quiet, you’re not only helping their cause, you’re also committing a disservice to those who might need your voice the most. I actually created a second Twitter account to go after some of these monsters. I went the anonymous route because I didn’t want to subject my writer friends on my main account to the venom that would inevitably invade my feed. The racists tend to attack as a horde on social media. I was shocked and saddened by how many vulgar Twitter accounts are out there. Blew me away. They have thousands and thousands of followers, and all they tweet is abhorrent, prejudiced bullshit. I have engaged them in debate numerous times the last few days. They don’t listen and I feel a bit grimy dealing with them, but it did make feel like I was doing something profound. And I need to do more. Speak up and say no to the racist rhetoric permeating every inch of our digital landscape. Silence is easy. Silence is weakness.
5 – Many people on social media claim that #BlackLivesMatter is a terrorist group. It’s hard for me to type that with a straight (handsome) face. Just stop. They want change. They want to spotlight atrocities committed against them. They want peace. The movement grew from a Facebook post, which you can read about in the New Yorker. Educate yourself.
6 – A favorite trope of racists when you call them out is “I have a black friend, I’m not a racist.” Or some variation of that nonsense. What? If that’s true then why have your last 75 tweets used some of the most offensive language I’ve ever seen? Own your racism. Or be a better human.
7 – If you’re a racist, look deep within and ask yourself why. Why so angry? Why so hateful? Why do you want to be on the wrong side of history? Imagine your children reading your horrific tweets. Are you capable of objectivity? We all have issues, nobody is flawless in their thoughts or interactions with others. But most folks aim for decency and fairness in their lives. My only fundamental goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday. Sometimes I fail, but I never stop striving for any slice of enlightenment and amelioration that shoves me in that direction.
8 – Follow these bright, rational, earnest folks on Twitter: Roxane Gay, DeRay Mckesson, #KeepItMoving, Samuel Sinyangwe, and #BlackLivesMatter. Or find their articles online. Read and absorb their wisdom.
[I had to edit this post to add an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates. He nails it as he always does. Please read his The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence. Potent stuff.]
9 – Have a vape. All racism can be remedied with a delicious custard vape. Right?
10 – Lastly, #StayWoke. Or for the racists, wake the fuck up.