Friday, August 22, 2014

Why I'm Angry. Hint: I Don't Hate the Police

It's 3:12 in the morning and no, I haven't gone to bed yet.

My mind is racing and my heart is hurting and I just can't turn it off.

I literally want to run away from these conversations. In fact, I can. It's pretty damn easy. All have to do is talk about something cute or funny. I can make an observation about the weather or the school year, and no one will think any less of me. I can let this fury just sliiiide away, if I want it to. And I do. I really want it to slide away. I really want to release the pain of knowing how huge the gap is between my side and your side. I would love to forget that some people now believe that I hate all policemen; that I am "rude, offensive, and just plain ignorant" because my beliefs are more liberal than theirs are. I think I could fall asleep fairly easily without that knowledge.

You see, I have that luxury. My skin tone allows it. I can be furious on Wednesday but silent on Thursday because it's not expected for me to be constantly battling a fight for equality.

It's bullshit. It's bullshit and I feel like a coward for considering the idea of backing off. I feel like a coward for deleting a heated conversation on Facebook. I feel like I didn't present my views appropriately. Maybe, if I had been more eloquent, more even-keeled, I could have swayed a perspective to the mere IDEA that things are UNBALANCED. And they're not unbalanced because white people are horrible and black people are saints. They're not unbalanced because being black and poor means you're a criminal; any more than being white and financially secure equals a law-abiding citizen.

Things are unbalanced because we all, ALL OF US, allow it to be so. Black and White and Asian and Latino, we all perpetuate these stereotypes and allow them to flourish. With every utterance of a slang term aimed at anyone, regardless of whether or not YOU ARE THAT DEMOGRAPHIC, we dig that divide ever deeper and wider... With every assumption made about a boy sitting on the curb of a parking lot or about a policeman patroling the streets of a heavy-crime area, we make assumptions and justify stereotypes and hurt ourselves.

Let me get one thing straight: I don't hate policemen. Or firemen, or paramedics, or the military, or anyone in public services. What I hate is the power that comes from the shield of those positions. I hate police violence. I hate military cover ups. I hate that the corruption of our system runs SO DEEPLY that anyone would have the audacity to even suggest that profiling doesn't exist.

I hate that a young boy has to be taught how to react if questioned by the police, for fear he will be arrested or SHOT. I hate that Michael Brown is just ONE FACE in a long line of people who have died by the same fate. I hate that arguments about the tiny details of HIS death are what people get hung up on: It's NOT just MICHAEL BROWN. It's the hundreds of deaths and harassments and injustices that don't go viral that are the fuel behind the fury. It's the young people of color who are killed in Chicago every day by gangs and drive by's that we are immune to. If Antonio Smith was a little white boy in my suburban neighborhood, shot down by a gang member, you can DAMN well be sure that it would be making the news. HUGE news. And yet... no. I've seen only a blurb here and there and it will fade away into the weekly murders that happen in Chicago, most especially on a hot summer weekend. Michael Brown's death simply lit a match in front a hissing stream of toxic gases.

This isn't just about police and riots and looting. This is about our nation seeing the equal value and unimaginable loss of every person, not despite the color of their skin, but BECAUSE of ALL of their attributes.

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