Celebrities have taken to social media, journalists have taken up their postings, and activists and protesters have taken to the streets to announce “Black Lives Matter!” In return, “All Lives Matter” fills the air, and throughout Dallas, Texas, tears of pain and hurt have left others riveted with the question, “Police Lives Matter”, don’t they? Why the hate? Why destroy innocent people in retaliation for others? It’s time we take a closer look at the matter at hand and where we can go from here, together.
Some people say the group has become more vocal with every interaction between a male or female of color, and a white police officer. Others say, celebrities like Jesse Williams have gotten more vocal, and forgetting their forum, have let their voice and their message get misconstrued. Williams, an activist of Black Lives Matter, (BLM), recently gave a speech on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards show, encouraging people of color to stand up for their culture, and for critics to sit down. He even mentioned restructuring the role of the police. For most of us, we understood the speech, and when Williams and others of the (BLM) use terms such as “we,” “us”, and “our people,” we understand it is a collective group of individuals of not only a race, but of culture.
There are things people in the celebrity world need to consider. Williams and other celebrities are some of those individuals who work and live around people who think and feel just like they do. How many interracial couples live in Los Angeles? How many live in California? Williams works on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, with an amazing group of multicultural actors and actresses, just like himself. His role as Dr. Jackson Avery opposite Dr. April Kepner, played by Sara Drew, is an interracial relationship as well. Other characters played by Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers, are also involved in interracial marriages. Ellen and her husband Chris Ivery, and Justin and his wife, Keisha Chambers, both offset, instead of on set. This television world of biracial families and same-sex partners and parents is no different to daily reality accept it. Children who are born to couples in these relationships are the ones who suffer most. They learn to tolerate the dismissive behavior of not being accepted by either race and as adults, they find it hard to connect to either the black or the white culture.
Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza spoke out stating, “Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers,” Garza told The Huffington Post. “What we have said over and over again is that it is a time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.”
If you compare Garza’s words with the speech given by Jesse Williams, you will see many similarities. And for an audience of celebrity entertainers like himself, many who support the (BLM) movement, Williams went from Humanitarian Award recipient to political hopeful in a matter of moments. Some of us are still wondering if Williams forgot his audience that night. Certainly, his fellow entertainers and activists downstage from him made perfect sense of what he was saying. All while being bi-racial himself, to push the issue with such a broad audience was certainly challenging for him, but what about others struggling to identify with one culture or another? As much as those still living in a black or white world; those not blessed with milk chocolate skin and stunning blue eyes, for it is those people who may feel the pressure to be one or the other to obtain leadership roles. And for some people still trying to find a place in the world, people like Micah X. Johnson, words like “mobilize” and “restructure,” this could very well be a call to arms.
Upon first hearing about the shooting in Dallas, I told a friend there were people there with their children. This shooting had to be intentional, and I am confident the Black Lives Matter, (BLM) protest would be the blame. Minutes later, the reports were staggering. Garza clarified (BLM)’s position stating, “We are anti our people being murdered in the streets.”What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando Castile, what happens to so many black people in our communities is absolutely unacceptable, and I think that’s something that we can all agree on,” Garza continued. I believe she is right about that, as being murdered in the street is something everyone agrees inconceivable.
There are some cruel, violent individuals in this world. They lack feeling, logic, and they join hate groups that keep them encouraged. These are the people who recruit people like Micah Johnson. These self-motivated activists are prepared to become martyrs for these groups. Johnson was not afraid to die for what he did. He was more afraid to live. Johnson did have a family, and his death left family behind, and yes, even his life mattered. Regardless of race or reason, this family lost their family member. Johnson‘s actions were the direct cause of his death, and though it is regrettable, it was his decision, and it did not have to be like this.
What about Alton Sterling, didn’t his life matter? And what about Philando Castlile, didn’t his life matter? What’s the problem with Black Lives Matter taking a closer look at what’s happening, or is it just because they are being attentive to one group of people? Studies have already determined there are racial disparities not only in policing, but within departmental hiring practices, as well, and not only because of race, but the use of force against minority races as well. Thus the organization of Black Lives Matter formed realizing there would need to be a representative sampling for people of the black race to ensure progress doesn’t take as long as it has in the past, especially with so many lives lost. Their intent seems is to show the disparities, in an effort to deter this pattern.
However, there is something else to consider, and this should go without being said, but it still must be, so I will. Regardless if you are black, white, red, etc., if you make the decision to commit a crime or break the law, and you place a police officer’s life at risk, it is not murder in the street. An officer is trained to defend him/herself with their firearm. If a man or woman, regardless of color, is involved in some interaction with a police officer, and the officer reasonably perceives a threat against him/her, this meets the legal standard for use of force. This standard may be something you don’t agree with, or maybe you have a problem with guns, but the bottom line is a police officer only has about two seconds to make that decision to shoot or not shoot. And whether you want to understand that concept, it is in fact, the nature of their job, and the justification of a lawful shoot when working a situation involving another person who threatens the life of a law enforcement officer.
I understand any concerns about people abusing this standard, or perhaps exceeding the level of force against you or your family member. One statement Williams made that is so relevant, “Realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” There are police officers who for various reasons have overstayed their time in law enforcement, or were never meant to be there. However, I also know there are men and women who like to provoke police officers into an altercation, and once they are placed in handcuffs, they become more aggressive. We all need to realize we have a flawed system. We need to make changes, nothing can remain the same in an evolving world. Black Lives Matter is taking a stand, but you do not have to be black to stand with them and say, let’s make some changes to benefit us all. Let’s protect our citizens, protect our communities, and protect our police from the hate groups and their recruits, who come in all races and genders, by remembering every life matters to someone.