#BlackLivesMatter. #BlueLivesMatter. #AllLivesMatter. These hasthtags have come to represent a deadly cultural war that is spreading throughout the United States.
A lone sniper ambushed a Black Lives Matter protest, shooting and killing five officers of the Dallas Police Department after reports broke about police shooting and killing two black Americans, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
It has been a tragic week, leaving our nation feeling angry, frustrated and mournful, which Americans are justified in feeling — people have died.
Racial injustices have plagued the U.S. throughout history and continue to plague it today. America appears to have a mindset that if you are pro-black, you’re anti-police, and if you are pro-police, you’re anti-black; neither of which needs to be the case.
The polarization of political and racial issues will only lead to more hate, anger and killing. Racial profiling and police brutality needs to be discussed, protested and solved, but not in a way that leads to more violence and death.
We condemn the killing of innocent police officers and mourn with the Dallas Police Department. We also condemn racial profiling and police brutality toward black Americans and mourn with the victims’ families as well.
“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah commented on the very culture that consumes the U.S.
“It always feels like in America, it’s like, if you take a stand for something, you automatically are against something else,” Noah said. “You shouldn’t have to choose between the police and the citizens that they are sworn to protect.”
We should stand with law enforcement, but we should also stand with black Americans when injustices take place.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not responsible for the murders of those five police officers. There is not one person on the current Editorial Board for Scroll who knows what it’s like to be black in America. All we can do is take the time to listen to what the black community is trying to tell us — and they’re telling us that racial injustices from police force are very much a real issue in their lives.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to say it: America has a problem within its police force,” Noah said. “And although the problem disproportionately affects black people, it’s not just a black problem; it’s an American problem.”
Black Americans are incarcerated by police at nearly six times the rate as white Americans, according to the NAACP. If black and Hispanic-Americans were incarcerated at the same rates as white Americans, current jail populations would decline by 50 percent.
If America will ever come close to solving the racial injustices that plague our country, we need to first acknowledge that it’s a problem. This starts by not needing to say “All Lives Matter” as a way to dismiss the mistreatment of black Americans. Just because a person runs a 5K to raise awareness for breast cancer doesn’t mean that person feels we shouldn’t be aware of other types of cancers — it’s about tackling issues as we have the opportunity to address them.
Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, responded to the Dallas shooting by saying that a few perpetrators of evil do not represent nor control our nation.
“Every member of this body — every Republican and every Democrat — wants to see less gun violence,” Ryan said. “Every member of this body wants a world in which people feel safe, regardless of the color of their skin. And that’s not how people are feeling these days.”
Our right to protest for change in the U.S. is fundamental in the Constitution and essential in the progress of our nation.
“The values that brought those protesters to the streets in Dallas, the values that brought those protesters to the streets in Washington last night — respect, decency, compassion, humanity — if we lose these fundamental things, what’s left?” Ryan said.
We are in a vicious cycle. When Eric Garner and Michael Brown were killed by police, the killings of two officers in New York immediately followed. We can’t continue in this pattern.
America’s racial injustice problem will only be solved when each U.S. citizen embraces the issues that are severely impacting black Americans, while still standing with our law enforcement when they are protecting and serving.