I am very sad to discover I have a new automatic thought process.
Until fairly recently, reports that a Black person had been shot were often related to gang or domestic violence. Of course not always, but often – That’s what made the white-dominated news the most, which is a huge, obvious problem unto itself.
I realized yesterday that my first, instant thought now when I hear about a Black person being shot is, “what did a cop do now?”
Non-police shooters do not even enter my mind as a first likely cause anymore. It is an actual surprise if a cop is not involved. When I read a report yesterday, I literally said a surprised, “Huh!” out loud when I saw the shooting was related to a non-police shooter.
That. Is. Terrifying. And sad. And awful on so very many levels.
My naive, “why isn’t life more fair” self wonders how we are even in this place as a civilization. My pragmatic self knows the sad, tragic answer.
I am not someone who has a generalized hatred or wariness of the police (I am afforded some of that by being white and female, I realize,) and I fully recognize there are wonderful cops out there – I know a good number of them personally.
Wanting to stand up for the good cops who get lumped into the shitty stereotype too long overshadowed my willingness to call out “the police in general” on their behavior. I still understand they have a rough, dangerous job in many areas. I still understand many do want to protect and serve.
However. Those good cops have to get more active, more vocal, and demand accountability from their peers and from their departments. That is seldom a safe thing to do in terms of one’s career, but doing otherwise is no longer conscionable for any officer whose heart and ethics are in the right place.
Joan Allen had one of the most memorable quotes around the year 2000 in the movie, The Contender: “Principles only mean something when you stick to them when it’s inconvenient.”
That is difficult for some people to hear, and even more difficult to live. “But I have these wonderful beliefs! I’m a good person!” Do you stick to those beliefs when it’s inconvenient? For example: Queer allies – do you eat at Chik-Fil-A because that food tastes so delicious it’s worth supporting abject hate, even though you would never personally oppress anyone? Is that chicken tasty enough to deny me and every other queer-identifying person our civil and legal rights?
You good cops out there – stand the frick UP and stop tolerating the insane violence your colleagues mete out.
Every DAY, our Black friends, family, and neighbors are being gunned down, and our judicial system doesn’t give a shit. Because the American public is part of that system via juries and elections, our entire COUNTRY doesn’t seem to give a shit. Most have been fed lies or misleading “facts” about the Black community and have swallowed them whole, never questioning why only certain stories make the news, why the Black population in our prisons is disproportionately high. I am so ashamed of the things I hear white people say, even today, but that’s not important when acting for change. My hurt feelings as a white person don’t come into play. White people – despite millennia of people in charge saying so, we’re not the center of the universe.
We as individuals have to be the ones to make change happen and to hold our entire justice system accountable. We individuals have to find each other and band together to enact even greater change.
You know those local elections? Sometimes, those elections have judges on the ballot. Those are important votes – PAY ATTENTION. Engage. Research. Then VOTE for someone whose values are closest to yours.
Local elections matter – they impact our daily lives immensely.
To my fellow white people: Stand up, speak out, VOTE, be the safety pin. SPEAK to other white people and to our officials. LISTEN when Black people are speaking about these issues. Be selfless, be strong, be courageous. Most of us white people, especially those who are straight and/or cis, have very little idea what it’s actually like to live in fear for our lives in America, which can make it harder to get motivated. Read the reports, pay attention – standing idling by at this point is tacitly endorsing the violence in our society.
Every day, we’re losing Black (and trans, queer, and other non-white/straight/cis) friends under circumstances that are jaw-droppingly horrifying: HELP THEM. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what it’s like to be hated simply because of how you look, who you love.
This man below shot a young, unarmed, Black man because he was dating his daughter. Now you fathers of daughters out there might have had similar thoughts about any young man who dates your little girls, but would this asshole have shot a white boy? Probably not, because there would be Consequences for shooting a white person. We cannot say the same for shooting a Black person.
We have to find ways to help.
The snowflake status I posted on Facebook yesterday rings louder and louder in my mind as the hours pass:
“A sweet friend of mine just posted this, and I love it desperately. #TeamSnowflake
why yes, dainty, and unique alone……
you bitches ready to be shut down by a blizzard????”
He went on, after reading a draft of this article, to say:
we will have that blizzard I spoke of, you start very nice…..
asking, for accountability…….
they brush you off, no concern, you have already melted……..
two snowflakes come drifting in, also easy to brush off……they melt (after the purpose is done)……..
we drift in……..
now they need a shovel……..
now they need to call an emergency, they are shut down, they can not move……frozen in place dare I say…….
forced to deal with the snow on its own terms now…….
they no longer melt, they find strength by staying together……..
“Winter is coming” is a well-known phrase these days, and carries with it a stern warning. It is a phrase of which the wise take heed in the stories.
We special, precious, soft little snowflakes who want everyone to be treated with equality and respect are often mild-mannered, some of us even meek, and we are ready to understand both sides of an argument, and to see each point of view as inherently valid – even if we disagree.
More and more, our sensibilities are so fucking offended that we are beyond angry. We are beyond approaching some of these situations with “mutual respect” and diplomacy.
We are verging into rage as we see our brothers and sisters of color, of non-binary gender, of other minority status, shot, beaten, shunned, objectified, murdered, tortured, shamed, neglected, legislated against.
More and more of us are no longer sitting politely by, trying to rationally engage with our counterparts. I still feel that is important, but it’s not getting the fucking job done.
What happens when you piss off #TeamSnowflake? I’ll tell you, focusing on American history:
- The American Revolutionary War
- Women’s right to vote
- The New Deal
- The Civil Rights Movement
- Labor Rights – Weekends, overtime, unions
- The ACLU and the NAACP
- The FDA and safe food
- Planned Parenthood
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations
There is no need to agree with these outcomes to recognize the relentless perseverance behind them. If we are pushed enough, we will turn. We will somehow get our chaotic thoughts and lives together, and we will Get Shit Done.
Winter is fucking coming.