Friday, July 8, 2016

Silence Is Not Golden

This country is in an uproar. People are hurting. We live in a hashtag nation, and it can be dizzying when your Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of them. #SocialMedia has made our world smaller. "There is nothing new under the sun." What we are now seeing in rapid-fire succession are things that have always happened, it just took us months or years to hear about it. It is also nothing new to the poor and minorities who have lived under this level of fear for generations.

But this is why the #alllivesmatter #bluelivesmatter #policelivesmatter people need to just take a seat. Of course all lives matter. That is a given. Of course they do. What these other "movements" and hashtags do is to, intentionally or not, attempt to silence the grief and outrage minorities feel when they are treated unfairly. #blacklivesmatter doesn't mean ONLY black lives matter. It means black lives ALSO matter. More importantly, it means that there is a collective sense that they feel their lives DON'T matter to the police or even to society at large. It is a call, a cry, to truly acknowledge that their lives matter TOO. In it's essence, #blacklivesmatter actually means #alllivesmatter.

You can be both ‪#‎ProPolice‬ and ‪#‎AntiPoliceMisconduct‬. You can be Pro-Police & ‪#‎ProMinority‬. You can, gasp, be #BlackLivesMatter AND #PoliceLivesMatter. These are not mutually exclusive, at least they shouldn't be.

It's time to acknowledge that #policemisconduct exists. It helps no one for police departments to close ranks and fail to acknowledge its existence. Bad apples need to be actively rooted out. Don't close ranks, open them up to scrutiny. Real change is needed, but real change only comes from the inside-out. Real change will occur only when ALL of the good officers, which I choose to believe out-number the bad apples, wake up to and acknowledge the misconduct around them and stand up to their friends, their partners, their brothers-in-arms and say "it stops with me." Only then will we see real change. I'm sorry if that means you have to report your best friend, your partner, your brother-in-arms, because if you don't report the problem, you are part of the problem.

This is the same school of thought that the Catholic church used for years to deny and cover up the pedophilia by the priesthood. This is the same school of thought that blames a woman for being raped. This has to stop.

And yes, many of these victims of violence and police misconduct had a criminal background. So what. We are SUPPOSED to have a presumption of innocence in our courts. Well, whether that truly exists or not can be debated, but you have to actually get to court alive to even enter that part of the discussion. Protecting the civil rights of the accused is exactly what protects the rights of all of us from living in a #policestate.

For the rest of us. Wake up. Stop denying that a real problem exists in our country. Hold each other accountable. Stop blaming the victims. Don't try and silence or minimize the pain experienced by those affected, even remotely, by these actions. Don't try and silence or minimize the fear experienced by people who feel they are a potential target. Peacefully protest. Start with yourself. Look inside and root out your own issues. Do this every day. 

Acknowledge. Empathize. Act.


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