Being Silenced: Where Change Can Begin

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, statements posted, comment threads and tweets resonating with anger and injustice. This has been a charged, painful, frantic few weeks, and while one would hope it is to come to an end, this is the beginning.

Eric Garner March

Funny. There is hope in that statement, isn’t there? We are entering another civil rights era, a time where men and women march to ensure equality. This time, people of all races and backgrounds will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, repeating the cry. Black Lives Matter.

 

I have wrestled with blogging about these current events because I did not want to simply fume on the internet until I had all the facts. Yet it wasn’t until I realized how uncurrent these events were that I began to type.

#CrimingWhileWhite has been a shameful testimony of how many times one’s appearance has provided a second chance. Granted, these are anecdotes. Here, however, are the numbers. In this ProPublica article, there is proof of the racial disparity when it comes to bullets fired and lives stolen in an instance. Just a few years ago, the federal data revealed that “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” Essentially, the authors of the article estimate that young black men face a 21 times greater risk of being shot by an officer than a white male of the same age.

Image courtesy of ProPublica

And this is data that isn’t even fully complete.

 

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All this being said, this post isn’t just a rant about what is wrong.

 

We must recognize we have created an enemy too. Who is “the other side?” Do we condemn all uniformed men and women? I know many who have taken the oath who grasp the dignity of life and the delicacy of justice. There is no doubt that a medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, and the man last seen with his arms around the black man’s neck is not facing any repercussion. The days to come though, may be punishment enough. What we need to seek is a solution, not revenge.

 

A former mentor of mine urges us all to “lean in and listen” in his editorial in the Huffington Post. Call me old-fashioned, but respect garners further respect. I have no right to command that you silence your voices now. I just ask you to be aware of the potential prejudices spilling out of our hearts as we speak. At times, a listening ear will heal more powerfully than a spoken word, and a conversation more effective than a lecture.

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Chaz Howard also wrote about the incongruity of Philadelphia’s protestors against the backdrop of the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall Wednesday night.

“A huge tree stood over all of us. Today shiny ornaments and lights hang on it. Not very long ago a black man would have hung on it.”

 

 

About 2000 years ago, a Middle Eastern man hung on it too. And He did have the right to say this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

All lives should matter. Let us strive to make them so.

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