Saturday, December 6, 2014

Try to Understand

By now, you're all aware of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York regarding police officers and deaths of black men. Before I get into a diatribe, I'm going to state that police officers are a valuable commodity. I have family that was in law enforcement. My AWANA JVs leader was a police officer and had a significant impact in my salvation and spiritual growth. I have friends that are police officers that are godly people who love the communities in which they live and serve. When I had my house fire in March, police were highly comforting to me. They cared about my well being and what happened with me after the fire. All in all, police officers are wonderful pillars of the community.

However, some things have happened lately that frighten me to no end. The first thing that has happened is an 18 year old young man was shot and killed. No 18 year old should be shot, no matter the circumstances. The next thing that happened was that the same young man that was shot was left in the middle of the street way longer than necessary. The next thing that frightened me was that everyone took to two extremes in the situation. They either dismissed the people who lost a brother, a son, a friend, or a cousin; or they dismissed the feelings of the officer that tragically shot the young man that day. Darrin Wilson empathizers were dismissing the feelings of black people, calling them over reactors and race baitors. Michael Brown empathizers were dismissing the wonderful work that police officers do because of one fatal shot. It's not right on either account. When the grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson, everything broke loose. It's not fair to either side of the debate. Whether or not the evidence was there or not, there is no excuse for destroying innocent bystanders' property. That breaks my heart almost as much as the loss of life.

It's gets worse. Back in the summer, a video surfaced of a man being confronted by police and then taken down in a choke hold. Now, the man was breaking the law. The police were in their right to confront him about it. However, the choke hold wasn't just barbaric. It was illegal. The choke hold has been banned for years, and this officer used said maneuver to take down the man. Sounds pretty much like a slam dunk, right? At the very least, this will be taken to trial and the officer will get a chance to truly defend his actions. This was even on video. Nothing happened. I'm outraged that something so simple was missed.

If a police officer kills someone in the line of duty to save their own life or the lives of others, that's fine by me. I understand that. However, when there isn't accountability for the taking of the life, or at the very least, a legit explanation of actions, it bothers people.

The trend #BlackLivesMatter is popular because black people aren't seen as human or worthy of survival, based on the last two high profile grand jury decisions involving black men. When a football player goes to prison for a year and a half for basically shooting himself in the leg while a police officer gets set free for choking a man to death, it makes that hashtag all the more poignant. When people get more outraged over dogs being hurt by a football player than black employees being hurt by a southern chef who has a TV show and a propensity for butter, can't help but ask why us. We have a black President of the United States who has been disrespected by Senators, radio hosts, and the like since he decided to run for president. And yes, I'm aware that it happened to the president before that, but it also happened to the president before that, the president before that, and the president before that. My argument is that it seems to be way more prevalent nowadays as opposed to before. Yelling in the middle of the State of the Union address, making it well known that your plan is to make the president a one term president, or literally telling your radio audience that you wish the man would fail at the expense of your country's success are all examples that a lot of people just don't want black people to be successful or blessed.

However, I do have to take my people to ask as well. It's unfair to destroy small businesses in search of justice. It's unfair to disrupt life for our own gains. All it does it hurt our chances of finally being seen as equals. The last thing we need in this firing range we call America is to give those who dismiss us ammunition. I'm calling to task all those protesters to make absolute sure you're not hindering the cause. If you're doing a simple walk, march, or stand-in, by all means, have at it. Wake up those who don't understand. If you're looting, rioting, flipping cars, and just being a nuisance, please realize what harm you're doing.

Overall, I ask that both parties show respect. To the police empathizers, understand that black people have been through at lot and I think there is a bit of last straw syndrome. To Brown and Garner empathizers, I ask that you remember that being a police officer is ridiculously difficult. You have to make split decisions. You're away from your family for extended periods of time. You're putting your life on the line with the potential to leave your family with little to no warning. Stress and pressure can play a major role, and if they're not properly dealt with, can lead to some disastrous results.

Our best bet for these kinds of things is prayer. Pray for those who protect and serve. Thank those who have been given the unenviable task of keeping the peace. Pray for those who feel hurt or slighted by a "civilized" society. Try to understand how they feel. Don't give them the "suck it up, buttercup" speech every time black people share their frustrations. It's time to start understanding people. It's time to stop picking a side for the sake of picking a side, or worse, gravitating to one side because we're expected to join said side. Just treat each other with respect. Our futures are on the line and sooner or later, the final straw is going to be reached and all you know what is going to run loose.