No Lives Matter Unless All Lives Matter   Leave a comment

“Hey, bitch, why don’t we all just line up against a wall and let the black community open up on us with automatic weapons. Would that satisfy you?”

That’s the thought that went through my head today as I was forced to listen to a racist rant by a black woman in a public forum. Sorry for the language, but I’ve got a head of steam boiling.

The thing is, I agree with her that cops shouldn’t be shooting black people, but I agree in a much more inclusive way. Cops shouldn’t be shooting PEOPLE — period! Elites should receive the same penalties as the rest of us — no exceptions. Had we stayed on that point, she and I could have agreed all the way through the meeting.

Unfortunately, when I pointed out that police killed a deaf man last week for apparently no reason, she went off on how cops killing black people was wrong and we ought to make it stop. I felt compelled to point out that the dead man wasn’t black. As far as she is concerned, that’s the only white man who was ever shot by police. “Nobody is shooting white people” was the sentence that caused me to bite my tongue and head for the exit. On my way out, she shouted after “Well, did it also happen a month ago or a year ago. Nobody is shooting white people.”

So, I thought I’d do a little research … calm myself down and remind everyone that the angry mob is not the answer to the problem of police brutality. When we separate ourselves into warring camps based on skin color, we dig giant ditches between us that become impossible barriers to overcome. Yes, white people are being shot by police officers. Yes, black people are shot more often by police officers. We can declare police open season on white people while making black folks exempt from law enforcement or we can do something that will actually work — which is to concentrate on why cops of all colors are shooting people of all colors. Thirteen percent of the population can fight this war alone or 100% of us can fight it together, but not if we dig big ditches between our two tribes by judging each other on the color of our skin rather than the content of our character.

Daniel Harris was Deaf and speech-impaired. He was driving down the interstate in North Carolina about 18 miles over the 70 mph speed limit. I know Deaf people — I have cousins who are Deaf and in learning sign language, I’ve made friends with many Deaf people. Deaf people sometimes seem to ignore police because they don’t hear the sirens, although that wouldn’t explain why Harris didn’t see the lights. A relative of Harris said Harris was afraid of the police. That doesn’t surprise me as my cousin says he fears being shot while he’s reaching for a pen because we all know cops are trigger-happy these days. Maybe Harris thought it was safer to be in front of his house before interacting with the cops so he didn’t stop immediately. It reminds me of the woman who refused to pull over for a cop in a dark part of the highway because there was someone posing as a cop, pulling women over and raping them. The cautious female driver was tazed and jailed for acting smart, but at least they didn’t kill her.

It’s well-known among the Deaf community that police don’t treat Deaf people well. In Florida in August 2015, a Deaf man was shot and killed by a Hispanic cop because it had been reported that he was armed and had spoken too loudly at someone (a life hazard for those Deaf who can talk). His son was standing right there telling the cops “He can’t hear you”, but Officer Hernandez felt compelled to shoot this man six times while he was sitting in his car with the windows rolled up and his lawfully possessed gun still holstered.

In Seattle, a Deaf carver was shot to death by a Seattle police officer when he failed to drop a knife and piece of wood he was carrying. (This was my cousin’s wake-up call because he lives in Seattle … there is a large Deaf community in Seattle).

In Fresno California, Dylan Noble (who was white) was shot by police who branded it as suicide by cop. You may not have heard of that shooting because his family couldn’t even get any attention by staging protests. They were the first I know of to point that that, while Black Lives seems to matter, white lives are of zero interest.

In August of 2015, unarmed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was shot and killed by police during a drug bust that he apparently was not a part of.

In November, two black police officers in Louisiana were charged with murder after they fired 18 shots into a car, killing six-year-old Jeremy Mardis and leaving his father critically wounded. Mardis and his father were white.

Those are just the ones that came up in a brief Google search, but nobody is up in arms because … uh, could be because they are white and white people aren’t allowed to point these things out.

In 2015, The Washington Post launched a realtime database to track fatal police shootings. In 18 months, they recorded 1,502 people shot and killed by on-duty police officers. Of them, 732 were white, 381 were black and 382 were of another or unknown race. You have to adjust for demographics, of course. Whites make up 62% of the population, but account for only 49% of those killed by police officers. African Americans account for 24 percent of those killed, but are only 13% of of the US population. This means they are more than twice as likely to be killed by police officers than white Americans.

So, yes, black people are killed by police at a higher rate than white people. That’s a sobering statistic that must also be weighted against the disproportionate amount of murders and other violent crimes committed by black Americans. Higher crimes rates means more interaction with police and higher violent crime rates means those interactions are more likely to put cops on high alert.

Which does not in any way condone police shooting anyone who is not actively shooting at them at the time. But when you say Black Lives Matter and we want people to care passionately about the deaths of blacks at the hands of police while dismissing white people being killed by the same police, you set up barriers to our working together.

The focus should not be on police shooting black people, but on police shooting ANY people. When  you try to make it just about black lives, you are making a racist argument and some of us who would be on your side will walk out of the meeting thinking unkind thoughts about you and not be willing to work with you in the future because you make us feel like the only solution is for anyone who isn’t black to open our wrists for your entertainment.

Would that satisfy you? At least with this one woman … I somehow doubt it.

To my black friends who understand why I could not let a racist rant stand unanswered … thank you.

 

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Posted September 2, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in racism, Uncategorized

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