When we say “Black Lives Matter”, we are obviously not diminishing other people’s lives. If you go to a breast cancer event and start screaming all cancers matter, it diminishes the experiences that people with breast cancer are going through. Of course all cancers are important but in that instant, it is the people with breast cancer that we are focusing on. The same can be said for “Black Lives Matter”. Saying “All Lives Matter” diminishes what blacks in America are going through with disproportionate police brutality.
If you don’t think that police are being brutal to black Americans then you either aren’t paying attention or you don’t care. And I urge you to care. We are all American and we all deserve the right to be free from brutality and discrimination based on ones skin color. The police budgets in various cities are insanely high compared to what other services receive. The military equipment that police are receiving is ridiculous. Police training needs to be a lot longer than a measly 6 months and deescalation tactics need to be used and enforced. Even still the courts have ruled that police are not obligated to protect you.
In the cases DeShaney vs. Winnebago and Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, the supreme court has ruled that police agencies are not obligated to provide protection of citizens. In other words, police are well within their rights to pick and choose when to intervene to protect the lives and property of others — even when a threat is apparent. In both of these court cases, clear and repeated threats were made against the safety of children — but government agencies chose to take no action. Why are we paying these people grand sums of our money if they are not obligated to “protect and serve” us?
We’ve grown up with the idea that police are required in our society but that isn’t true. A police force is a recent invention and the origins of these police are less than ideal. Some of them were used to catch runaway slaves. And others were paid by companies to break up picket lines and beat workers for wanting fair wages.
What’s the alternatives for policing you ask? The only way to find out what works is to institute it. Reparative and transformative justice has been used widely as an alternative to jails and courts. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system.
We also must start to fund real mental-healthcare. In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed up the last trauma clinics in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40 percent of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive, and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.
And most importantly, educating yourself about the struggles of black Americans is the best you could possibly do. There are many enlightening books out there that help to examine racism in this country. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, I recommend reading Race Matters.
I hope I provided you with proof and enough knowledge to accept the violence present in our police forces in this country, the adversity and hardships that black Americans have gone through and continue to go through everyday, and the viable alternatives to policing. You may not want to believe it, but the future is changing. Please help in making this country and the world a better place for everyone regardless of skin color, religion, and socioeconomic status.
Power to the People. Black Lives Matter ✊