Divided We Fall

Two more black men have died from police brutality.

I know that statement has a lot of weight to it, and I know there will be a lot of people who find fault in the words that I use. But Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a convenience store, and he was pinned to the ground and shot to death. And Philandro Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light, and he was shot to death. By police. So call it what you will, but I call it police brutality.

I feel like the majority of people who will cry foul at that comment also cry foul about concepts like systemic racism; they probably hold the belief that white people are persecuted just as much as black people, if not more. Perhaps even the idea of more gun restrictions gets them riled up. Is this you? Are you angry that people are placing so much emphasis on the lives of black people? Go ahead, argue your point. Your voice has probably already been heard, when their voices have so often not.

I know I take my own medicine when I assume the above statements to be true about the same people. But again and again, I see these correlations, and again and again it troubles me that prejudice shades the eyes of those willing.

You say that anyone should have the right to carry a gun, but when a black man carries one (legally, and doesn’t use it), that qualifies him to be shot by the police.

You are against a series of higher gun control measures which would prevent suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons, but you will most likely blame a black man’s death on his prior convictions (for possession of marijuana, of all things).

Stop making excuses. Stop trying to hem and haw through the specifics of the events that continue to happen, generalizing when it suits you and pulling out the specific details only if it proves your point. This nation is divided as it is. Why do we have to further divide the trenches with more blood? Why can’t we see people as people — not as objects that strengthen our arguments, not as stereotypes that will further ingrain our prejudices, but as people? For the love of all humanity, why?

I’m so sick of people trying to justify their prejudice to make themselves feel like they’re an okay person. I’m sick of people saying, “Oh, they’re hurting? Well, look at what has happened to me.” We try to cover up the things about ourselves, about our country, that make us feel guilty, and say, “Well, that’s not racism. That was just an accident.” Or even worse, we say, “He deserved it.” Both of these things fuel the fire. If racism really is systemic (which, for the love of God, it is), then it’s going to continue to be that way until the system changes.

I don’t know how to accomplish that. But I do know that those trenches still exist. The fact that they do is a blatant cry for help in a place that puts unity in its name. How dare we call ourselves the United States of America, when there is still segregation in our midst, still a lack of understanding of whose lives matter, still oppression seeping into everyday life for so many people. Get your act together, America. Otherwise, I don’t want to know the path we’ll go down.

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