Not once in my life did I ever want to call someone over 50 years of age "naive" until the day all the big news sources were reporting on Alton Sterling’s death.
“I just don’t understand why a cop would shoot someone for no reason,” said this person, who will remain anonymous.
I’m 23 years old (22 years old then) and I understood why he was shot four times in the chest while being held on the ground by two police officers whose body cameras “fell off.” I’m betting this person does too, but they don’t want to admit that racism still exists
This death sparked more national outrage and coverage of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Many people, like myself, support this movement. Many people do not. Just think how differently this movement would’ve been received if it was called #BlackLivesMatterToo. I can’t coin that term. A friend’s little brother said it and I loved it. Thanks, Collin. The term is not exclusionary, it’s not aggressive, it’s just a gentle reminder that hey, black people exist in this world and they also matter.
But this movement is more than that.
To me, as a white young person, #BlackLivesMatter was never threatening nor did it feel exclusionary. The people who reject BLM and exclaim #AlllivesMatter seem to think they need to be included in everything.
Here’s a PSA — you aren’t meant to be.
Here’s another PSA — stop trying to compare #BlueLivesMatter to #BlackLivesMatter.
It’s not possible.
Someone chooses to be a cop, and therefore chooses to put their life in danger every day, enacts their authoritarian powers, and acquiesces to constant public scrutiny — yet, you can’t choose to be black.
Therein lies all the difference.
No one, in their right mind, is saying all lives don’t matter. No one, who you should listen to, is saying cop lives don’t matter.
The broken system
People seem to be rejecting the BLM movement without knowing the facts, so here they are.
Police are 3.6 times more likely to get violent in altercations with African Americans than whites. (The New York Times.)
African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for committing the same crime, despite the fact that more white people are arrested every year. (The Huffington Post).
Police officers in Chicago, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri are at least twice as likely to stop and search an African American’s car compared to whites, and yet in every city, whites are more likely to have contraband than African Americans. (Vanity Fair)
This is a common theme found nationwide.
Whites are more likely to be found with illegal drugs than African Americans or Latinos. (The Huffington Post.)
According to The Washington Post, “Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers...unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.”
If only 14 percent of the population is African American (US Census Bureau), how is approximately 50 percent of crime committed by African Americans?
How is it that, statistically, white people are more likely than African Americans to carry illegal substances yet much less likely to be serve time for those crimes?
You’re not born with it and it’s not Maybelline. People aren’t born with a predisposition to commit crimes, yet in our current society the color of their skin is an indicator if they’ll be convicted for it or not.
The BLM movements works to combat this.
BLM proponents are protesting a system that’s literally set up for African Americans to fail.
The US Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, where a lot of riots are taking place after an unarmed, African American man, Freddie Grey, died from spinal cord injuries sustained while in the back of a police car.
This report just came out on Wednesday, Aug. 10, proving all of the above statistics.
They found — wait for it — a broken system. (They literally called it “broken.”)
According to USAToday, “The report said the police department makes unconstitutional searches and arrests, uses excessive force, uses ‘enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans,’ and retaliates against people practicing freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution.”
The BPD even conducted public strip searches on African Americans, which is extremely not allowed. Baltimore police have literally violated the constitutional rights of African Americans. The report proves it.
To my fellow white people — have some empathy and think about how you would feel if your race was being systematically targeted by police. You don’t get to choose which facts are real. This injustice is real even if you choose to ignore it.
But, Hannah, if they just complied with police, there wouldn’t be a problem, right? Hopefully yes, but in many instances no. Philando Castile was cooperating. Alton Sterling was unarmed, on the ground, and subdued when police shot him point blank multiple times and killed him.
But, Hannah, if they commit a crime, they should be in jail. Absolutely. But did you miss the point about how African Americans are targeted by police? If police look hard enough for a crime, they’re going to find one or find a reason to arrest someone if they really want to.
Also, but this logic, many more white people should be arrested, convicted and jailed, but they’re not.
Recently, there’s been so much backlash about police mistreating African Americans from the heightened media coverage, even though this is something that’s been happening since the beginning of the US.
What changed in recent years?
Many police use body cameras, or people will record their interaction or a friend’s interaction with law enforcement, which is the best way to hold police, and people being arrested, accountable.
The world can now see how racism is ingrained into a system that’s sworn to protect everyone.
Don’t forget — it’s wrong to blame all police for the mistakes of a few. Police are human, and they screw up from time to time.
Every time they put on their badge, every time they respond to a call, every time they approach someone threatening in the street, they’re putting their lives in danger for the good of everyone else.
They’re a crucial part of our society.
However, they need to be held accountable for their mistakes and prejudices, especially because of the power they hold. They’re held to a higher standard because they possess the power to take away someone else’s freedom.
Not all police are good police, just like not all journalists are good journalists. I understand that police are scared because of high racial tensions right now. If I was a cop, I’d be scared (I’m also 5’2” and 112 Ibs.)
But if police can’t control that fear and they end up hurting, or even killing, an innocent civilian they are sworn to protect, they should not be an officer of the law.
BLM opponents are saying they don’t understand why black people are so angry. Look at the above statistics — of course people are angry and rioting in the street.
I don’t like the riots. I think they’re unnecessarily destructive, and, if Baltimore is any case, the perfect example of how to make things worse. Police there are under so much scrutiny for who they talk to, they’ve stopped approaching people on the street and murder rates have “soared.”
It angers me when I see BLM protesters shut down, yell at, and push journalists who are trying to cover the event and interview a few of the attendees to help their voices be heard.
What really angers me is when police are murdered because of this, like in Baton Rouge. It’s not justice. It’s not right. It’s senseless killing that’s making the world go blind.
However, keep in mind that all this violence is a reaction to a broken system that’s been failing these people their entire lives. African Americans are most likely not going to trust the system. How can they complain about the system to the system that’s failed them their whole lives, and expect change within that system?
They can’t. So some (not all, some) resort to one of the easiest methods of garnering attention and having their voices and actions heard — violence.
It’s not all violent, though. Mainstream media is the worst source for unbiased, and well-rounded information because the medium of television news media isn’t suited for that type of coverage when it comes to social issues. Meaning, TV media can’t go as in-depth as online articles.
I love hearing stories about BLM protests turning into a dance session and a Q&A with law enforcement.
I love watching videos from police officers, like Nakia Jones, who made a heart wrenching Facebook video after Baton Rouge officers were shot and killed.
Remember, white people, that sharing videos of white cops being nice to black people isn’t necessarily helping black people — it’s helping police.
The only thing that will help black people is unbiased and non-racist law enforcement agencies worldwide. But we’re a long way from that, so the riots will probably continue.
I can’t control what African Americans do. I can’t tell them, and neither can you, how to fight back against being oppressed, and in no way should we be able to. I can’t tell them how to react to this injustice, and expect them to listen. They have no reason to listen to a small white girl who’s never had to, and never will, face any of these types of problems they’ve had their entire lives.
I’m fortunate enough to not have to worry about my safety every time I encounter police, which would really be bad because I’m a journalist and talk to police on a regular basis. I get to live in my small, almost all-white town and not see this stuff on my streets.
My opinion literally does not matter on this subject, and I’m perfectly fine with that.
They shouldn't listen to me. They shouldn’t listen to you. They should do what feels right, except that they should base those feelings on what will produce the most effective and positive outcomes that inspires social change.
I really want to say the riots won’t accomplish that, but I don’t know the future. I don’t have an alternative method for change, no matter how much I want to help.
I would love to see more conversations between BLM people and police. I would love to hear about more communication and change between two groups who are seemingly at war, yet history has told us that social movements don’t always procure change without riots, without picketing, or without violence.
I still don’t like the riots, and I’m not condoning them, but I see the reasons for them.
Here are my concerns:
What worries me is thinking about my male black friends being targeted and shot by police.
What worries me is people’s willful ignorance and refusal to admit that racism still exists.
What worries me is that people let their emotions rule them instead of making judgments based on facts.
What worries me is BLM proponents’ easily accept #BlueLivesMatter while reject BLM because it excludes people.
I mean, what?
So suddenly people are shouting that #BlueLivesMatter, even though they obviously don’t think other professions don’t matter, it’s just that police are under fire right now (literally) and they need extra attention.
To the wet blankets who are saying #BlueLivesMatter, that’s the same exact argument BLM people have been saying for years.
No one is saying white lives don’t matter. No one is saying Hispanic lives don’t matter. We’re saying that black lives have been under fire lately (literally) and they need extra attention.
Obviously, you can comprehend that idea.
What worries me is #AllLivesMatter.
Many of my white friends don’t see the problem with #AllLivesMatter. Of course everyone’s lives matters, so why are we only focusing on black people? Isn’t that racist?
Hell no it’s not.
Frist of all, you can’t be racist toward white people. Racism is based on a system of oppression. There are no systems that oppress white people in America. You can be prejudice and discriminatory as hell against white people, but by definition, you cannot be racist toward them.
Look it up.
But the main reason it’s not #AllLivesMatter is the same reason it wasn’t called Human Suffrage, and the same reason it’s not called Straight Rights. Men could already vote prior to the 1920s. Women couldn’t. Men didn’t need help. Women did.
In certain states, you can still be legally fired and lose your housing because you’re gay.
Heterosexuals don’t have to worry about that. Homosexuals still do, which is why it’s called Gay Rights.
There are literally so many examples and great metaphors of why it’s #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter. If you’re confused about this, please Google it.
White people do not face systemic injustice because they’re white. We don’t need to be told our lives matter — that’s never been questioned.
African Americans need help, as evidenced by the above statistics, numerous sources, and the freaking US Department of Justice.
#AllLivesMatter just ignores the problems certain demographics face, and puts a bandaid over a cut instead of treating the disease (racism).
The call to action
The one GOP African American Senator, Tim Scott, of South Carolina, who’s also only one of two African American Senators in the US, gave a speech about how he was stopped seven times entering his place of work as a US Senator in one year by police. Yes, you read that right. A US Senator was stopped by police seven times where he works, just because he’s black.
“Recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish of another, does not mean it does not exist,” he said.
To my white friends who don’t believe in BLM, you can’t say you wouldn't riot in the streets if it was your family being targeted by police, if it was your son who had been shot for no reason, if you were scared for your life every time you were pulled over for something trivial.
You haven’t lived their life. You don’t know.
Still don’t believe African Americans are targeted by police? Still don’t believe racism exists? Look at the report from the DOJ. Now look at it again. The proof is glaring at you in the face, and it’s now your responsibility to challenge your ingrained belief that racism isn’t an issue anymore. It is.
Remember, these African Americans who have been unlawfully shot and killed by police are your people, no matter skin color.
These are your fellow Americans, and this entire system is literally set up for them to fail. No matter how the BLM movement is handling it, no matter how many riots you see on the news, African Americans are still facing this injustice everyday.
Until the system helps instead of hurts them, I suspect the riots will continue.
If you didn’t know the above statistics about the systemic injustice before reading this, I’m sorry you heard it from me first and not an unbiased source. I understand thinking #AllLivesMatter if you didn’t know the facts.
But now you do. So do something about it. I’m not saying you should go march in the streets, or start hating cops. I’m saying stop lying to yourself and face the truth.
If you truly believe that all lives matter, all of this should anger you anyway. It should make your stomach churn to challenge your ingrained, childhood beliefs, it should give you anxiety to think that it’s 2016 and people in this country are still being killed because of the color of their skin.
Ultimately, it should piss you off.
If it doesn’t, I think the hashtag you’re actually looking for is #WhiteLivesMatter.
Writing is my main passion. I mainly write fiction, but sometimes think I can write poetry. This is where I publish posts about my life and topics I'm interested in.