Black Lives + Blue Lives + All Lives = American Lives: Why We’re Fighting Each Other For The Same Thing.
I took a couple of days to digest everything that’s been going on this week. As numb as some people might be, I almost didn’t believe what was had happened in my own country. On July 6, 2016, Alton Sterling was gunned down by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. THE VERY NEXT DAY, a video surfaced of Philando Castile being shot and killed in his car in St. Paul, Minnesota for following the directions of the police. Just when you thought it was over, boom, 11 cops shot, 5 of them dead in Dallas. All of this happened within 72 hours and it is unacceptable. The feelings that comes to mind vary from time to time. It goes from: rage, to sorrow, to fear, and even confusion. Then a question came to mind: What are we NOT doing as Americans to come to a peaceful resolution? There isn’t one clear answer and it sure as hell can’t be summed up in one article. But making changes start with taking a step in the right direction.
Let’s start with the civilians. And yes, I said civilians on purpose because even though Black people are being disproportionately effected by this issue; it’s not JUST a black problem. This an American problem that needs everyone’s participation to come up with a solution. We have to start policing ourselves. I don’t mean carrying a gun and becoming a vigilante. But more so being aware of what’s going on in the world around you. The thing I notice for the most part is that some people think we can win this battle on the ground face-to-face which is virtually impossible. This is a tactical game and you have to diplomatic if you want to survive. In short, having rights doesn’t always equate to having power. If a police officer wants to search you or your possessions just off of a whim, you can say no because that is your God-given right. But keep in mind if you say no, that police officer now has beyond a reasonable doubt to be suspicious of you even though you have nothing to hide. There are a plethora of loop holes, catch 22’s, and subjective train of thought just like this scenario that will always fall in favor of the police officer. So what do you do? Do you let your rights be potentially violated or do you stand your ground? The safest way for both parties is to just let the police officer do their “job”. Are they only doing their “job” because you look a certain way? Maybe. Does that make it right? Of course not. But there are ways of dealing with any foul play outside the realms of protecting and serving. First off, you can express how you feel to the officer after he’s finished with what he needs to get done. You can also take their name and badge number and send a complaint to someone above them. These options may not put you in an honorary activist status and they might be dead-end routes, but taking them hurts no one. If you want to take action, do it in a way that can spark change.
For the police, let me start off by saying I have the utmost respect for them. I respect them as people. I respect what they do. And I feel like they don’t get enough credit for going above and beyond the call of duty. With that being said, I think we all can agree that something has to improve on their end. Whether it be: training, experience, or involvement with the community, something has to be revamped within the police system. Let’s be honest, no one is beating down the door of the academy to join the police force. So voluntarily joining makes them a special individual already. But being that special individual comes with a high standard that they should be held to. Cops are the ones we look to for protection. They’re the ones with the training. They’re the ones with the authority. So if a situation escalates and ends with unjustifiable deadly force; they should be the ones who suffer the consequences because that’s part of the responsibility they take on as a police officer.
Some would argue that nothing needs to be improved on the police’s part because there are thousands of good cops doing their jobs correctly every day. Now I agree that the good does outweigh the bad. Every time I’ve come across a police officer there was nothing but respect given and taken. But for those of you who believe nothing should be improved I have one question for you… where are all the good cops? It seems like every time a situation like this happens, the whole police force turns their backs on the community to protect their comrade. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I don’t want to see a video of a white cop playing basketball in the hood with black kids and a caption that reads: “There are good cops out there. We need more videos like these.” No, we don’t! We need videos of cops hand-and-hand with protesters during a march. We need cops in these communities assuring us that everything is being done to rectify what happened. We need cops to be the first ones to react and the last ones on the defensive. Now there is a cultural difference from being a cop that us on the outside might never understand unless we go through it. They have a brotherhood. They protect their own and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As far as we know, there may be some written or unwritten rule that prohibits them from speaking out the way they want to. That just goes back to my point of improving something. Nothing disconnects you from the people more than a high-ranking officer stepping to a podium and regurgitating a scripted speech to try to calm the situation. I’m not saying speak out against your comrade, but the smallest act of support speaks to me way more than any press conference can.
The media is the devil’s advocate. I’m not talking about social media because that’s just a cesspool for ignorance and negativity. I’m talking about people who get paid to go on television every day and report the facts about what’s going on in the world. Here’s what I don’t like about the media. All they need is an inch of wiggle room to manipulate the masses. A mug shot is used for the victim’s picture so the people won’t be able to sympathize with them. No mug shot? That’s ok. Old tweets, Facebook statuses, or unfavorable pictures on social media can all be used to paint the victim in a negative light. And I get it, the news isn’t what it used to be. It’s not about the facts of what’s going on in your local area or around the world anymore. It’s a business. Everyone is reporting the same story so they have the find innovative ways to reinvent the wheel. How do you do that? You over exaggerate facts. You omit truth. You use certain words that can trigger an emotion. You use certain words that can lighten a story. All of it is a marketing ploy to strike fear into people, incite stereotypes, and keep viewers on your channel for primetime. The only shows I get my news from where I know it won’t be completely bias is The Daily Show, which is satire but still a good resource, and TYT (The Young Turks).
As much as we want peace, action, reprimand for those who deserve it, equal rights and a whole list of other things that everyone deserves; the sad reality is this problem won’t be fixed overnight. There is no checklist we can use to get to a certain place of serenity. It’s an optimistic idea that this can be resolved within our generation. But acknowledging that we have a problem is a step in the right direction. Let’s face it, we can’t get to where we need to be without each other. The people have to start policing themselves which includes: educating ourselves on the law, looking out for each other, and being diplomatic when it comes to saving our lives. The police need to step up and take responsibilities for their actions and the actions of their comrades. The media needs to report the news fairly and accurately. We all need to develop somewhere. We all want the same thing and I think we can agree that no one wants a life to be taken that doesn’t need to be. So Rest in Peace Alton Sterling. Rest in Peace Philando Castile. Rest in Peace to the police officers who lost their lives in Dallas. And my prayers go out to the families who were effected by these horrific events. We can do better America.
Facebook: Author Ty Mitchell
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.