A Personal Take on Black Lives Matter

**I posted this on Twitter about two weeks ago, but I thought it might be relevant to place on here too. Consider it a short personal essay on the Black Lives Matter Movement**

 

I’ve been wanting to say something in support of Black Lives Matter on here for a minute but frankly I don’t use twitter or any social media all that much anymore, and I felt like I wanted to let the anger subside before I said anything out of my own ignorance. Regardless, I feel a rising guilt that I haven’t said anything.

This movement is about more than George Floyd. He is sadly one of a great many. It’s about every person whose ever been killed while in the custody of police. It is about every black parent who has had to give their child a warning about the police. It’s about every black child who took a different way home because they didn’t want to walk by a racist neighbor’s house. This movement and this anger is not new. It has been simmering in the pressure cooker created by institutions who place a different value to the lives of people of color in this country. The seeds of this anger were planted when the first African people were taken from their homes centuries ago, only to be herded like cattle. That seed has now grown into a tree of monstrous size and complexity, but while the roots of a tree bring life to its surroundings, this only infects its surroundings with rot. Racism may never truly end. Sometimes I think that if everyone looked the same, we would simply find something else to separate ourselves and belittle others. But that doesn’t mean we have to let that racism corrode our institutions. 

The end of slavery didn’t come with the signing of the 13th Amendment. It simply changed form. Plantations have turned to prisons, but their mechanisms have not changed. We profit off of free labor every single day as Americans. We always have. The sooner we as a people understand that, the sooner we can overcome it. The American justice system has been used to oppress communities of color since its formation. Until today, many responsible for the perpetration of this grave injustice have gone without any reprimand or accountability. All we ask is for those in power, those in the police force, those in the courts, and those in our nation’s capitol to be held to the same standards of human decency as everyone else. 

The police can no longer be above reproach. They can no longer be above the law. No one should die in police custody. The right of someone to live or die is not their decision to make. Their role is supposed to be to serve and protect, not instigate and subjugate.  I am thankful that I live in New York, a state that, despite its many problems and far from perfect police system, doesn’t see the same level of abuse as other states do. This is about more than just our individual communities. It is about every single person in this country. If the man next to you cannot live peacefully, then what makes you believe you deserve peace? Are we so cruel as to turn our eye to the injustices in front of our very faces? I would like to think we as humanity and as Americans are better than that. 

I would like to believe that the majority of police join the force with the intention of doing good and serving a just cause. I respect someone who truly wants to do some good in this world. Sadly, there are too many who do not and if those who abuse the badge and enact their own sadism on innocent people are not held accountable, it kills the institution from the inside. Is it such an unreasonable request to have those who are given a certain power over our communities to be held to a certain standard? 

Change is never easy and hate is nothing if not adaptable, but the fight for change has always been worth it. It was worth it in the Civil War. It was worth it in the days of Jim Crow. It was worth it in the days of Martin Luther King. It is still worth it today. 

Keep going. Write your representatives. Call them. Talk to your community. Vote with your dollar. Boycott those who stand on the wrong side of history. Most importantly, vote. If you’re not registered, register. If you are, educate yourself on the candidates. That is how we make lasting change. Never forget that the government is controlled by the people, not the other way around, despite what our president may have you believe. 

Lastly, educate yourself on other people’s experiences. Talk to people that don’t look like you. Talk to people that don’t think like you. Talk to people who don’t live near you. Have empathy for others. Their experiences are our experiences and when all is said and done, this experience is shared amongst all Americans. 

Keep protesting. Keep talking. Keep kneeling. Keep standing with each other. Keep loving one another. And don’t forget that black lives matter. 

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