I think that somehow people misconstrue the facts about what causes racial dissension to continue generation after generation. We try to put people in a predefined box based on where we think they should stand and we argue points that just aren’t valid, which only increases tension because we aren’t hearing what our fellow community members are telling us.
I don’t fit in a predefined box, but I stand with Black Lives Matter. Hear me out on this.
I both support law enforcement and condemn those that abuse power. I both support the slogan Black Lives Matter and condemn looting and riots that cause violence to innocent people. I support peaceful protesting and hear voices of anger and outrage with compassion. I don’t look at the slogan Black Lives Matter and think anyone is trying to say that ONLY Black Lives Matter, I look at the slogan and see that an entire community is crying out that Black Lives Matter TOO, Black Lives Matter EQUALLY.
I believe in HUMAN rights – equally. I believe in standing up for the rights of those who have not had equal rights for centuries in our nation. I believe in addressing the problems that are so boldly visible in front of us that there are people in our own communities being mistreated and we should join arms with them and demand change.
With racial tensions at an all time high, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by four police officers, and only one has been charged with murder while three have been charged with unintentional felonies. Many people have posted their support for Black Lives Matter. We have worked to educate those around us. I have seen arguments come across social media that are not helpful to the conversation of how do we fix this problem as a nation? How can we do our part?
Imagine if you would, that scene where George Floyd was trapped on the ground with three grown men on top of him, one with their knee to the back of his neck. However, instead of picturing George Floyd, picture a twenty-four- year-old blonde White girl. She is lying on the ground crying out for her mom as she takes her final breaths. Would you feel differently? If you’re honest with yourself – would it trigger a different emotional response? Would you automatically blame her or criminalize her? Would you be more likely to step in and demand murder charges for all involved?
I believe in open dialogue about racial relations. We will never get past it if we don’t talk about it, and keep talking about it. I have seen huge strides from people I love that used to fight me every step of the way and are now joining arms with me and the Black community to say enough is enough. But as we have those conversations, we have to be aware of how our defensiveness and emotions can drive a wedge between open dialogue.
Here are ten common arguments that I see people make on social media that are perpetuating racial dissension and furthering the divide between us.
The argument: All Lives Matter. This is the number one argument that I see White people make about the slogan Black Lives Matter. Yes, of course all lives matter. However, not all lives are perceived as dangerous because of their skin tone. Not all lives are being executed in the streets under suspicion simply because of the color of their skin. There is a race that is being killed at alarming rates. Unarmed Black men and women are being killed. Black men and women in their homes watching TV are being killed. Black men jogging down the street are being killed. Black men accused of petty crimes are being killed. So yes, all lives matter, but all lives are not in danger, and this conversation…this one right here is about how Black lives matter EQUALLY and that EQUALLY has yet to be acknowledged. And more than anything an entire community is crying with one underlying message: STOP KILLING US. Stop deciding you know who people are or what they stand for or how they will treat you based on their skin color. Stop hate. You cannot say that All Lives Matter until you acknowledge that Black Lives Matter TOO.
The argument: Black on Black Crime. This argument makes me more angry than any other argument. Many people tout statistics about Black on Black crime and Chicago as if somehow deaths among community members justifies murder. Black on Black crime happens for a lot of reasons, it is a SEPARATE systemic problem and a separate conversation. What we are talking about is Black men and women being killed because they are Black, which is not what happens in Black on Black crime. We are talking about a problem that law enforcement and society responds differently to a Person of Color than they do a Caucasian Person. That is the current conversation. We cannot justify the murder of our Black community members on the basis of Black on Black crime any more than we would justify a white person being killed in the name of “white people commit mass shootings”.
Any arguments that are rooted in stereotypes. Not only does it make people sound ignorant, but perpetuating stereotypes are not relevant to the conversation at hand, are destructive and disgusting. Stereotypes are rooted in false information, where we categorize a person based on a snapshot of their life, judging their entire value based on a perception that isn’t ours to make.
The argument: Rioting isn’t the answer. I am not an advocate for looting, destruction of property, or violence. I will condemn it every time. I think it detracts from the message and focus of a needed conversation. It hurts my heart that we cannot talk about George Floyd’s murder without also talking about looting and riots. With that being said, I remember a time when NFL players were condemned for their peaceful protests. We are dealing with a problem that hasn’t been resolved for centuries, we are supporting a community that has cried, pleaded and begged to be recognized as equal and hasn’t had victory in that. We cannot be more concerned with property than people. Violence and looting is NOT the answer, but we have to be more outraged about the loss of life than we are the loss of property. We can’t say that you are free to protest as long as the protest doesn’t interfere with me, as long as I don’t have to see it.
A friend sent me a picture that explained it this way, “If you were stranded on a desert island and trying to save yourself, what would you do? Wave at the planes passing by? Yell at the boats you could see trying to catch their attention? Become more desperate each time they left you behind. Look at your family and know you HAD to do something to save them? I bet eventually every single person I know would risk burning down the island by lighting a fire in the hopes it would catch someone’s attention.” – Author unknown.
The argument: All White people aren’t the problem. I don’t think it was ever insinuated that all White people are the problem, but the legal system we have was created by White leaders and there is an unbalanced number of White male police officers, elected officials, judges and leaders compared to representation of minorities. I know that it can be natural to become defensive, but avoid it. As Stephen Covey teaches, seek first to understand and then to be understood. While nobody is blaming you, if you aren’t standing against racism, you are passively allowing it to happen all around you.
The argument: Not all cops are bad. I actually agree that not all cops are bad, however that doesn’t mean we don’t need serious change in our law enforcement practices. I have loved ones in law enforcement and have raised my son to respect the law and those who enforce it. However, government entities have to get this under control. I saw it best on a meme from Chris Rock that said some professions can’t have bad apples… like pilots. American Airlines can’t be like ‘most of our pilots like to land, we just have some bad apples that like to crash into mountains.” How many bad brain surgeons are acceptable? When a doctor or surgeon botches a case, there are severe consequences. We have to hold people accountable. The outrage from our Black community members is not only about the fact that Black men and women are being murdered, the bigger problem is that they are murdered without consequence. Even when it is caught on camera – it is not enough for the officers to be held accountable. Not convicting an officer for killing an unarmed person is condoning the behavior. Acquitting them is saying, it’s ok, we understand why you did what you did. You can’t say I am outraged by what happened but I am not willing to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Those don’t go together.
The argument: I’m not racist so stop blaming me. Nobody is blaming you – be open, not defensive. In my book I use the key concept BOND – be open not defensive to talk about things that are hard to talk about. We have BONDing moments right now. We can be open, and tear down the walls of defense to reach a common goal. We can be part of the solution and not shrug off the problem because we feel like we, individually, didn’t cause it. If there is a mess, help clean it up, because it is all of our responsibility to fix it.
The argument: George Floyd was a criminal who resisted arrest. Not only is this a false statement, but it doesn’t help. Petty crime is not a death sentence. Saying, “I’m claustrophobic, please don’t put me in there” is not the same as trying to get away or resisting arrest. He was already in handcuffs. As someone who has been trained in SAMA and CPI restraint techniques, I have heard numerous times that if someone dies during a restraint – it is your fault, you are liable. That’s part of EVERY training. We are taught to watch for signs of distress. There are always two people present during a restraint so that others are watching for signs of distress, to ensure the safety of everyone involved. A restraint is not a consequence for behavior. A restraint is not a power move to get someone under control. Verbal deescalation tactics such as join and follow to lead are used to help people in crisis to calm down and make decisions that are safe and in accordance with the law. A restraint is only to be used if someone is a direct danger to themselves or others. What we witnessed on that video was not resisting arrest. There was NO struggle, and they stayed on top of George Floyd for FOUR MINUTES after he died. He was NOT responding. They stayed on top of him after calling for emergency medical assistance. They didn’t get up. They didn’t move. They didn’t help him. They watched him die. Three people held him down, and one stood watch while he cried for help and they let him die. It was murder.
The argument: George Floyd did not suffocate. There are two autopsies. One says Mr. Floyd suffocated, the other says he did not. The truth: it does not matter what part of his body shut down, it would not have shut down if they weren’t restraining him in the manner they were. Both autopsies call it homicide. He asked for help, he cried for help, and they ignored his cries. It was murder.
Deflecting with “Humor”. The #GeorgeFloyd Challenge and #WhiteLivesMatter memes and tweets are disgusting. There is no other word for it. There is absolutely nothing funny about hate and racism. It’s a disease that will destroy our community and our society, and us individually. It’s not funny. Sarcasm and satire have no place in this conversation.
Be the solution. Be the good in the world. Make a stance once and for all that HATE STOPS HERE.