The Complexity of Race

It is problematic when we trivialize deep and serious social issues with catchy slogans, “Black lives matter,” and now “Police lives matter.” The latter in reference to the two policemen who were gunned down in New York City. The media in their reporting wants to make this some kind of competition by underscoring the fact that the numbers of those marching in support of the police were much larger than those marching in protest against the police’s maltreatment of Black males. Yes, all lives matter, but what we have seen historically in this country when it comes to the treatment of Black folks is that justice has not only been slow in any number of instances it has often been denied. Let’s just be honest for once, and if we are we know that Black males are followed more in large department stores than Whites, that Blacks are given longer and harsher sentences than Whites for the same offenses and that Black males will be stopped by the police more often than Whites while driving. I challenge Whites who find this hard to believe to do the research. Go back through history and pay attention to the number of Blacks who were killed at the hands of Whites for no real or justifiable reasons and were never made to pay for their crimes because Black lives did not matter. Yes, all lives matter but let’s not get distracted by the issue of policemen who have brutalized, beaten and killed Black males and who have never been brought to justice because their badge has shielded them. The truth of the matter is that Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Dontrae Hamilton and Tamir Rice should all be alive. There was a common denominator in the actions of the police in each one of their situations that influenced the decisions and the choices made by law enforcement to deal with their subjects and that common denominator was race. I am convinced that if these individuals had been White the outcome would have been different. It is the difference in the treatment that we ought to be wrestling with and the reasons for those differences in treatment that ought to be at the heart of our national conversation, and not some nebulous slogan that reduces complex and multi-faceted issues into one dimensional and lifeless cartoon caricatures.

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