I’m a 6'5", 240lb Black man with a beard. I “look like a big bad dude.”

…That doesn’t mean I deserve to be shot.

I’m Black, 6’5”, 240lbs, and have a pretty decent beard going; my car was on the verge of overheating while driving to work last week. Based on the comments of Tulsa, OK police officers, I would probably fall into their categorization as a “big bad dude.” But this doesn’t mean that I deserve to be shot like Terence Crutcher, if my car breaks down.

While serving as an Army Officer, I fought to defend our constitution. I possess a license to carry a concealed firearm and I exercise this constitutional right regularly while running errands, including trips to the grocery store. In many of those cases, my wife and children are with me. This past July, one of our cars was one month overdue for a state inspection. But legally carrying a concealed firearm while in a car with a slightly overdue state inspection isn’t cause for me to be shot multiple times like Philando Castile.

Police brutality against minorities, especially Black men, is embedded in the history of the United States (see Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Prince Jones, Sean Bell, DeAunta Terrell Farrow, etc.). With each new incident, our sense of injustice and outrage spikes, leading to protests, tweets, and Facebook posts. But this anger and frustration, this righteous indignation, must be channeled into changing the system — so that we can change the outcomes. It is even more crucial today than it was yesterday, that we hold our elected officials accountable to our communities, and that we demand for justice to be served.

I am a part of a grassroots fundraising effort, “Americans United for Black Lives” that created a Crowdpac campaign, to help elect candidates who are committed to justice and Black Lives. We asked Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization the question: “What are some of the key local races where small dollar donations can actually make a difference and support Black Lives?” They pointed to three critical races this election that we have a real opportunity to flip:

· Andrew Warren running for State Attorney in Hillsborough County, FL

· Kim Ogg running for District Attorney in Harris County, TX

· Zach Klein running for Prosecuting Attorney in Franklin County, OH

If you are looking for an opportunity to make a tangible difference, you now have it. The election of these officials will make a significant difference in the lives of African-American citizens in those regions. I encourage you all to donate and endorse the campaign.

We cannot afford to wait any longer, as each day is likely to add another name to the already too long list of unarmed, dead, Black men and women. We cannot afford to let the law enforcement and criminal justice system be so cavalier with the lives of minorities who are supposed to be protected and served. Each death matters. Black Lives Matter.