I’ve debated a lot on whether or not I should write this. Whether or not I wanted to post it if I did even write it. Whether or not I’m in a position to speak on an issue I personally will NEVER be able to fully understand.
I have a history of sharing controversial things online. Things that have left people unsure of which beliefs I hold or which “side I’m on”. I’m a firm believer that a Facebook argument every once in a while is good for the soul. Over the years, I’ve tuned it down significantly. I keep my opinions to myself. I avoid arguing with ignorance knowing it’s pointless. I keep quiet. However, I do not and did not want my silence to be mistaken for ignorance.
After months of this sitting in my drafts, struggling how to put my thoughts and beliefs into words of courage, knowing I will never agree with everyone, knowing this will trigger many people, but knowing this will also give support to many people, here I am. Speaking up for what I believe in. Because that’s how I’ve been raised, and I WILL NOT STAY SILENT.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
In case that wasn’t clear enough, THIS IS NOT OKAY.
People are DYING in our country for the color of their skin at the hands of the very people who should be protecting us. Something no one has any control of. Something America seems to have a real issue with. It is 2020 my friends, and it’s the time to be “woke”.
While way too many deny white privilege exists, it does. You can be ignorant and pretend you don’t have it or it isn’t there, or you can acknowledge its’ existence and use it for GOOD. Speak up for those who aren’t heard. Speak up for those who still don’t understand. Speak up for those who aren’t listened to. Speak up for those who don’t get the chance to speak for themselves. Speak up against police brutality and the racism this country has against people of color. Speak up for what you believe in.
When I get pulled over by a cop, I pray I don’t get a ticket. I NEVER pray I make it out alive. No one should have to worry about that.
When I am wearing a dark hoodie at night because it’s cold outside, I hope my hood stays up to keep my ears warm. I NEVER have to hope people won’t view me as a threat. No one should have to worry about that.
When I am meeting my significant other’s parents for the first time, I pray they love me and my personality. I NEVER have to pray they’re going to accept me for the color of my skin. No one should have to worry about that.
If I were to be arrested or get charged for a crime, such as brutally raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster (Brock Turner) I wouldn’t have to worry about people bringing up my past, calling me a thug, or referencing people I may associate or did associate with. Instead, I would just have to worry which swimming stats they would post about to explain how such a charge on my record could ruin my life. Oh, and then serve only half my sentence.
This isn’t something that impacts me directly, and I am TIRED. Tired of the ignorance. Tired of the blame. Tired of the left side versus the right side. Tired of the justification. Tired of having the same conversation over and over again for YEARS now. If I’m this tired, how tired are the people who deal with this EVERY DAY?
BLACK LIVES MATTER. If that’s triggering to you, or you feel the need to comeback with a different statement, do yourself a favor and check yourself. Since I know some people still won’t do this, let me help you.
If you hear “black lives matter” and respond with “all lives matter” but continue to say “blue lives matter”, lives mattering is not the issue. Being black is.
If you hear “black lives matter” and respond with “well what about my life? What about others’ lives? They don’t matter?” Literally NO ONE said that. If you’re taking offense to that, it’s because you feel a certain way about the focus being on black people. Why is that?
I came across an instagram post from my old yoga instructor (@yoga_shift) regarding the case of Breonna Taylor. Her post took the thoughts right out of my head and laid them out in front of me. The post is as follows:
“[…] White women, in their privileged bubbles, who have never in their lives been discriminated against or targeted by police because of their skin color, are more upset by the “riots” than they are over the senseless killing of an innocent woman in her home. I couldn’t sleep last night, couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I realized, I would be the exact same as them, had I not started to wake up, think for myself and surround myself with people of different walks of life, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different beliefs. These white women were saying, “well it’s a shame she died, BUT she shouldn’t have been dating a drug dealer”. There should not be a BUT after someone is murdered. You don’t go to someone’s family members funeral and say “I’m sorry your uncle died, BUT he really shouldn’t have been eating so many hamburgers, it’s really his fault”. And to be clear, she wasn’t dating a drug dealer. She was with a good man, and she was trying to better herself and be a good example for her younger family members. That’s always what white people claim though, “Breonna was dating a drug dealer, George Floyd was a thug”. […] When I see the protests, and some destruction, I see frustration, anger, sadness, and deep grief. I see a heavy burden that’s been carried for far too long. I see “we’ve said everything there is to say, why do we still not matter to you, what do we have to do to get your attention?!” […] I’m just one person, and even now, I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong things. I’m still learning and unlearning. I too, from a young age, was indoctrinated with beliefs that are no longer my own.”
And WHEW, that last sentence hit home. Growing up, I was told going to college was important to get an education, better myself, make myself worth more to a company, and to become more knowledgeable. Since graduating college, I’ve now been told I’m brainwashed, uneducated, and too young to know what I’m talking about. While I am none of those things, I am changed. I am viewed as being brainwashed because my thoughts and opinions on matters have evolved over time, since being educated, since going to college, since living and experiencing true diversity.
My Facebook and Timehop memories are a constant reminder of who I was. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. But why is it not a good thing? Because my views are different now and I feel “fake”? Because I don’t want people to dig into my past posts and exploit me “for who I am”? Because as I’ve gotten older I now feel a little shame that I was posting and saying the things I was?
The only thing to be ashamed of is being too prideful to acknowledge you might be wrong. I remind myself of this every day. I was raised with conservative beliefs. I presented in classes on why gun control was taking away all of our guns (spoiler alert – it’s not), and how that was a bad idea because criminals don’t care about laws anyway. I had videos of police brutality on my page with comments of justifying it with “well they reacted too quickly, they were resisting, and if you weren’t doing something wrong there wouldn’t be a problem”. I shared memes about not letting Syrian refugees into our country because their issues were their issues, and our country needed to be protected (AJ if you’re reading this, I apologize for possibly hurting you by that post). I followed blindly, taking the word of everyone around me, because I was being taught by people I trust, believe, and love.
Every day I am reminded of the ignorance I once had. Every day I am reminded how thankful I am to now have an open mind. How thankful I am to have had difficult conversations with people who wanted to explain their views and help me understand something I couldn’t. How thankful I am that I took it upon myself to recognize there might be an issue and use that as an opportunity to learn. People can call me names for my beliefs, tell me I’ve changed, call me a liberal or a snowflake, and they can tell me I’m too young to understand. I’ve grown, and I will not apologize for that.
I see people all over my social media talking about “man, you disagree with someone and suddenly you’re a racist”. It’s important to know that you don’t have to be screaming racial slurs to be a racist. However, “having black friends” doesn’t mean you aren’t racist, just like “having gay friends” doesn’t mean you aren’t homophobic. If you get triggered by someone calling you a racist, or you imply from someone’s comment that they think you’re a racist, that’s on you. Maybe you are and don’t realize it. Maybe you aren’t but people perceive you that way. BOTH of those situations matter.
You might not believe yourself or your views to be racist. Your intentions might be pure. But that doesn’t mean the things you say and/or do back those same beliefs. They might just be leading other people to believe you are racist. That in itself should matter just as much, if not more to you, because if people perceive you in a way that is not how you intend or want people to perceive you, that should be problematic for you. You should want to change that.
We have been having the same conversations for YEARS now. Nothing has changed. It still continues to be them vs them. Blacks vs Whites. Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice. Pro-Police vs Anti-Police. Why can’t we all just live our lives peacefully and on our own?
Just because people want to defund the police does not mean they hate the police, want to abolish the police, or don’t have a respect for law enforcement.
The definition of defund : to withdraw funding from.
The definition of abolish : to end the observance or effect of something, such as law or to completely do away with something
Maybe “reform” is a better word to describe what people are looking for. Police officers are over-worked and are expected to handle way more situations than they should have to or could possibly be trained on. Defunding does not mean we don’t want them there when were getting robbed at gun point or our house is being broken into.
Defunding (or reform) means putting some of that budget towards hiring mental health professionals so they instead can handle those types of situations instead of the police. So they can be the ones who help you when your 12 year old son is having a mental breakdown or your autistic child is struggling in public.
For the record, there are good cops. However, and let me make this clear, if you are a good cop caught in a situation with bad cops and don’t do or say anything, you are a bad cop. The same theory of being guilty by association.
In case that wasn’t clear enough for you let me give you an example of a good cop and a “good cop”.
The officer, Robert McCabe, who tried to help/check on Martin Gugino after he was shoved by Buffalo law enforcement at a peaceful protest (probably after realizing they shoved him entirely too hard), is a good cop. The officer, John Losi, who grabbed this officer by his vest while he was trying to check on him and pushed him to keep walking forward, is a bad cop.
The rookie officer, Thomas Lane, who had only been on the job for 4 days and ended up at the scene of George Floyd’s murder believes he is a “good cop” who was overridden by a senior officer. Now, this might be a tough one, so let me explain. Being a newbie surrounded by seniority is definitely intimidating, I’m sure especially as a LEO. In the beginning, he might have tried to stay quiet as a rookie. However, there comes a line and you have to decide which side you’re going to be on. When you know you should stop what’s going on, and you don’t, you are a bad cop. No other justification is needed.
We are in a time of the world where a new generation is questioning any and everything the past generations have followed blindly. MY generation is making a difference, and I am welcoming it with open arms.
Part of becoming an adult and being an adult is the ability to hold yourself accountable for your actions. It’s not easy to admit maybe your views were/are flawed or problematic. It’s not easy to admit you could be hurting others. It’s not easy to go against everything you’ve been told/taught/believed your whole life. It’s not easy to change.
I am not ashamed of my past beliefs, and you shouldn’t be either. They were my beliefs, but they are not anymore, and that’s okay. That’s growth. Growth is positive.
It’s time to make a CHANGE. A REAL change. You can get along with the program and support or you can sit idly by watching it happen. Just remember, if you’re not trying to change the problem, or still don’t/can’t recognize there even is a problem, you’re part of the problem.
So what’s it gonna be?