I shouldn’t have to, and neither should you. When it comes to all the violence going on, there is no good side. Do you see that?
I know many of you agree with me.
You can say police shootings of black men who did nothing to deserve death need to stop, and in the same breath say you support police officers who are not racist.
You can say you want tougher gun laws, and in the same breath say you believe in the 2nd Amendment.
You don’t have to pick a side.
I take that back. I do think we should all pick one side. The side where we believe all should be treated with respect and kindness, regardless of skin color, nation of origin, or financial status. I think everyone should pick that side.
I personally believe it can begin with empathy.
em·pa·thy noun 1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Many may think they have it, but often what they really feel is sympathy.
sym·pa·thy noun 1. feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
I am certain more people would rather someone understood what they feel more than pity their misfortune.
So, here goes.
There was a man in a community in the northern part of the country. He worked at a school, preparing and serving lunches. If a child didn’t have money, he didn’t give the standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he gave that child a full hot lunch. He was helping his girlfriend raise a 4-year-old girl who adored him.
His tail light was out.
When the officer approached, he told the officer he was licensed to carry and had a gun. The officer told him he needed his license and registration. He reached into a pocket to get those, and he was shot dead by the officer. Philando Castillo was shot dead in front of his girlfriend and their 4-year-old.
The day before, there was a man who had the legal right to carry a firearm. He felt he needed to defend himself against a man who was hassling him for money. He didn’t shoot, he just used his weapon to protect himself like so many fighting gun laws are screaming they need the right to do. When the police got there, the gun was in his pocket. It wasn’t out.
Police pinned him to the ground. His arms were pinned. There is argument that he may have been reaching for his gun. However, the cops had the upper physical hand here. Alton Sterling was shot to death.
Thursday night, a protest began in Dallas after these two shootings. It got out of hand. Police officers were not spraying tear gas. They were not beating protesters with batons. They had formed lines to protect everyone in the area and watched the protests. Snipers shot 12 officers. Five of those officers were killed, just standing there.
Brent Thompson was one of them. He was a newlywed, married just two weeks ago. I feel so sad for his new bride and the families of 11 other officers.
Most police officers go to work each day with a mission to protect and serve. The officers in Dallas did not deserve this.
Most black people feel disenfranchised. They see racism in their world, every day. Some of that racism comes from people in power, people who have killed others in their community.
The Washington Post estimates 258 black people were killed by police last year. A group called “mappingpoliceviolence.org” estimates more than 100 of them were unarmed.
This year the WP estimates 123 black people have been shot so far this year.
If you are not a minority, you have no idea how this feels. None. I don’t care what injustices have taken place in your life. Many have taken place in mine.
I still don’t know, but I can feel for them and want better for them.
Can we not support both the dedicated police officers and black men and women?
If we don’t see real changes, we will continue to see violence escalate. Black Lives Matter is a real movement that deserves respect, support, and EMPATHY. You will see protests escalate every time another innocent person is killed by police, and you should find a way to understand why.
Because, I guarantee you, when you see a rich white kid rape a passed out woman behind a dumpster get 3 months in jail, and his dad call it “20 minutes of action”, and then a black man get killed in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old because of a broken tail light, it is tough to feel empathetic for whites in the justice system.
And I’m not sure anything can change without empathy.