How many have to die before their lives matter?
Don’t fix things that aren’t broken.
That phrase is something I have heard in various forms, more times than I can count, but somehow it gets applied to everything — even when things are broken. This is because we have a tendency to pretend the things we don’t like aren’t real or aren’t a problem. Sometimes this is because we don’t believe there is a solution, or that we aren’t the ones who can do anything about it. Or maybe we believe that we have no place to try since it is not about us. Or, commonly, it is because we don’t care due to our own personal bias, misconception or prejudice.
The most relevant example of this right now is, of course, the horrifying predicament Black Americans are facing. For some people, this is an invented problem. “If only they would just listen.” “They behave in a threatening manner, what do they expect?” Since when is the punishment for disobedience death? And how else should people behave? A black man was shot in the leg when laying in the street with his hands up and empty. Another identified his gun to police, a gun he obtained and was carrying legally, and was killed while sitting in the seat with a child in the back seat. A teenager was chased down the street and traumatized because he shared skin color and features with the man police were looking for. More than one child has been killed for playing with toys, or just being a kid. A man was shot with his hands up, walking back to his broken down car. All of these people have two things in common: They were living their lives, as anyone would, and they were black. Were.
We have laws in this country that should prevent us from burying our loved ones due to brutality, hate and racism. They aren’t working. The effort to fix them? Well, that’s mocked.
Typically, the response to “Black Lives Matter” is “White Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter.” The truth is, all of these are true. But the bigger truth is that White lives and Blue lives are not being threatened nearly as much as Black lives are. Of course every life matters. No one would dispute that. (Well, except for those posting death threats to children and athletes on social media because they are standing up for something.) The difference is the amount of black people who are killed each day by the people who are meant to protect them. White people do not have to fear being killed more than they ever have because they aren’t being killed by police for no reason. Police officers do not have to fear being killed more now than they had to when taking the job because the risk level has always been there. A black person’s risk level seems to increase with every passing day and they are told they are being selfish and unpatriotic when they protest and voice their fear and injustice. Why?
Why aren’t we fixing a problem that we supposedly fixed decades ago? Why can’t we admit to racism and injustice and change it? What are we afraid of? Because here’s the thing: Whatever our fears are, they cannot be as strong as their fear is of dying.