Black and Blue Lives

This week has been horrible. From bombings overseas, to (even more) black men being shot and killed by police, to this morning waking up to the news of a sniper killing 5 police officers and injuring 6 more in Dallas.

My heart sank when I read that news, both for the obvious reason that five people killed in a mass public shooting is always horrifying, and also because of the backlash it will bring against those fighting police brutality. I am furious with those responsible for the Dallas shooting because of the lives they have taken and the damage and division their actions will cause all across the nation.

And sadly, one of the first things I began noticing was the difference in reaction to the loss of these lives.

When a black man or woman is killed by a police officer, people rush to defend police and assuring us that not all officers are bad. The victim is called a criminal, whether they had a record or not. It is presumed that they must have caused their own death, even when there is evidence to the contrary.

When officers are killed in a horrific shooting and there is an immediate collective outcry against the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole, even before we know whether the shooters were affiliated with the group or not. Current evidence is that the shooter(s) was not affiliated with Black Lives Matter or any other group, but I fear that testament will do little to alleviate the hate and ager that many are turning towards BLM and those who support it.

We know, without a doubt, that if the shooter(s?) involved in the Dallas shooting are alive, they will be arrested, they will be charged, and they will rot in jail.

Meanwhile the vast majority of officers who kill black people go free, even when we have video and other evidence showing the killings were not justified.

I notice how the very same people who tell black people to “remain calm” over black deaths are now up in arms about the deaths of these police officers.

I notice these discrepancies, the double-standard, and I’m puzzled at how people still refuse to see how black lives are valued less than others. We know that “blue lives matter” by the way we immediately punish those who take them. We cannot say the same about black lives.

These killings are abhorrent. All of them.

My hearts goes out to the families of those officers. I mourn their senseless losses. Violence is not the answer to police brutality, and will only cause more division and misunderstanding.

We also need to address the very real problem of police brutality. We need to hold officers accountable for excessive use of force, especially when it results in the loss of life. We need to push for training and policy changes to prevent these deaths. No one deserves a death sentence for a broken taillight, or for illegal selling of CDs, or simply for “looking suspicious.” The fact that these deaths occur with so much of the public hardly batting an eye is incredibly disturbing. When there is greater outcry over the death of a gorilla in a zoo than the murder of black people, we have a huge problem.

We can support and protect officers and the people — these ideas are not mutually exclusive. We must fight for the same justice for the murder of black lives as we do for blue lives. We must show that black lives DO matter, as much as everyone else’s, and prove it with our actions and not just empty words. I fear for what will happen in this country if we don’t.