So the verdict is in guys. All lives matter. I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? Everybody
knows should know this. We might not act like it, but we know it. I mean, why wouldn’t all lives matter? After all, all men are equal. That’s what they say.
The funny thing though is, the phrase or hashtag ‘all lives matter’ became popular only after the ‘black lives matter’ one. Isn’t that interesting? Think about it. It’s as if to replace the former. A sort of response- like, “No, we have an even better catchphrase… everyone will be more comfortable with it… no feelings will be hurt.” Kumbaya!
This time, the shootings got to me worse than any ever have. I’m not sure why, but they did. Maybe because I actually watched the video for Alton Sterling. In fact, the tears started rolling down my face halfway through the first article I read about Philando Castile. I was at work, in open sitting for that matter – we don’t do cubicles. I had to quickly compose myself so as not to have to answer any questions about why I was crying. It was just too sad. Then I watched the video of the aftermath of the shooting that his girlfriend recorded.
There were no words. Maybe it got to me so badly because of the negative comments all over on Facebook. Hurtful ones. Even from Facebook ‘friends’. And I kept thinking: how can people say this???
I read a lot of articles, some of which I shared on my Facebook page. My goal was to just get people to read them. To spread the word. To make sure people are not blind to the injustice; because my friends, ignorance
really is can be bliss. I didn’t want ignorance to be an excuse. And there is legit ignorance out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some people (or even just adults) in the U.S. who never heard or will never hear of these incidences. It sounds incredible, but I would believe it.
This is why we must not keep silent. We must join others in spreading the word about the injustice taking place against Black people in America. It’s the least we can do. Literally.
Throughout that week, whenever I came across hateful and racist comments and let’s just say negative comments, I had to keep telling myself over and over to try to see things from the commenters’ perspective. I just couldn’t come to grips with it. I had to come to the conclusion that the case must be that they just don’t understand. They don’t truly understand what it means to be discriminated against, racially profiled, disrespected, and much more- every single day of your life. Some people think they know. That they understand. But they really don’t. If they did, they wouldn’t be making such comments.
And it’s perfectly ok to not understand. Just don’t pretend that you do. Or claim that you do. And try to diminish the genuine pain that people feel. For example, if you’ve never lost a family member to cancer or experienced the loss of a pregnancy, I feel it would be very very difficult to know how it feels. Simply because it has never happened to you. You can read about it. You can watch movies about it. You can do a really good job of imagining the hurt and pain but I think one can’t ever really know. Same for racial injustice.
Speaking of not really understanding, I am thankful for my friend at work [he isn’t black] who actually reached out to me and asked if I wanted to talk about the situation.He asked how I was feeling. No one else did this. No one. I know it is an uncomfortable topic so I am not upset with my other friends for not doing the same. I’m just thankful that I have at least one friend who would do that. So we talked and even though we didn’t agree on everything, we talked and I was able to get a lot off my chest.
I am also thankful for my ladies’ bible study group [all non black] who came alongside me and asked questions about the issue and how they could help. I was glad to share my experience and my feelings and just simple tips on what they could do in their everyday lives to help stop this pattern of injustice.
I saw a meme on Facebook that said the fact that people even have to say Black Lives Matter should show that there really is a problem. Somehow, people choose to ignore it or live in denial. Or maybe I am just not understanding something.
“… and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country …” – Jesse Williams
People bring up, “but … but … black on black crime. But blacks commit more crimes than Whites,” and a few other similar ‘arguments’. That may be true (or may not be). That is not the point. That should not be the point. The point is, black people are mistreated regularly, systematically, at the hand of police (and others actually, but we are focusing on police now) and that is not right. The time to point out those things that black people do is not in response to the outcry of the suffering people. Those things some black people do, which some white people also do, by the way, do not justify the evil treatment.
And I know that not all police officers are bad. Probably the good ones are in the majority even. But does that mean we should keep silent? One is too many! I know that there are good policemen out there who risk their lives for members of the community where they work- whether black or white. Police officers who truly care. Police officers who serve and protect. But we have to say something when police officers do wrong. Especially over and over again, and get away with it.
The movement is against police brutality- not against the police.
In no way am I condoning retaliation on police officers e.g. Dallas shooting and more recently, Baton Rouge shooting- if that was the motive. That is also wrong and I don’t think helps to bring about justice- which is what we want. We want to be treated equally. We want for when police officers mistreat people, kill [innocent] people unjustly, they do not get to go scot free.
So what can you do? What really can you do to bring about positive change as it relates to this issue? That is the question.
- For one, you can seek knowledge. Read articles. From both sides of the argument. Read.
- Listen. Listen to what people say- on both sides. Truly listen. Don’t rush to conclusions. Be gracious in conversations on the issue. Understand that not everyone will agree. But still listen respectfully.
- Speak up. Say something if you ever see or witness racial injustice. I’m not saying be rude, or fight. Just a simple sentence like “hey man, that wasn’t cool at all” could go a long way. Heck, it could save a life!
- Teach. You don’t need to be a teacher. Just have conversations at home- with your family, with your parents, with your kids. At school with classmates, at work with colleagues, at the grocery store, gas station, restaurant. Teach love, and respect, and compassion. Not only through words, but through your deeds.
- Pray. Yes, we can pray that things would get better. That people will learn to love their neighbors. Truly love, and respect each other. That people would have compassion for their fellow human being.
- Really get to know people from other cultures, races, and backgrounds. When you know someone, it’s more difficult to turn a blind eye when they are suffering. You get to better understand their story, their struggle. Compassion and respect flows easier that way.
There are so many other things that can be done but I think these simple things can really go a long way.
So I hope you will excuse my ramblings. I just thought to share something longer than my usual Facebook status updates. This is probably nothing you haven’t heard before. Maybe you are even tired of hearing it. Truth is, I’m tired. We are all tired of this going on and on and nothing being done to bring about justice. We need to stop sweeping this issue under the rug. Enough is enough. We just need justice. Equal treatment. And we will not be bullied into silence- that has gone on too long. The people have suffered enough.
But what do I know? I’m just a Nigerian girl living in the U.S hoping that one day it’s not me or someone I know that gets mistreated by the police, especially because of skin color.
And just in case it wasn’t clear from the above, #blacklivesmatter.
“The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.
Thank you.” – Jesse Williams