We live in a culture of violence. It’s everywhere you look – TV, film, video games … we see it everywhere and we become desensitized to it. Planes and buildings blowing up, shooting rampages, brutal rape scenes … we’ve seen it all.
And somehow we, as a society, can “justify” this flood of violence in the media because it’s actors or computer-generated images — not real people.
But what about when a real human being selling CDs in a parking lot of a convenience store is gunned down on video by a police officer one night in Baton Rouge. And then the following night — while people of all races and ethnicities are protesting the brutal execution of #AltonSterling — the same thing happens outside Minneapolis, but this time #PhilandoCastile is gunned down during a traffic stop. And the kicker? Not only was he was gunned down with a four year old child in the backseat, but he was following the officer’s instructions and getting out his ID — not raising a gun, not inciting violence … simply following instructions.
What about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and all the other victims of police-on-civilian violence?
In two days, two black men were brutally and unjustly killed — at point blank range — by officers … two deaths, two families forever scarred, two victims who will never get justice.
It’s two too many, and I’m beyond sick.
We’re looking at an epidemic, folks. 1,134 black men were killed by police in 2015. 1,134.
Let that sink in for a moment. 1,134 lives lost at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect us. I hope it goes without saying that all cops are not bad — my own grandfather was one! — but the rate of incidents of police murdering black men is insane and has to stop.
Violence seems to be the first resort these days, instead of the last — both for police and for individual citizens.
How many mass shootings have we seen since January 1, 2016? 176 … (Source: Gun Violence Archive) including here in my own hometown where the lives of my coworker’s husband and teenage son were taken on February 20.
Everyone wants to place the blame in one place (the cops, criminals, terrorists, stupid people with guns) but this is such a big picture, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I do know we can’t fix anything unless we admit we have a problem.
We can’t always check off all these boxes every time there is a shooting incident but oftentimes …
It is about racism/discrimination.
It is about access to guns.
It is about mental health.
And in every case, the fact that nothing changes proves it is about an overall acceptance that “this is how it is.” — silence is a form of being complicit.
We have a major problem with violence here in this country — how we handle our rage and anger, how we discriminate, how we persecute.
I don’t know how to change it, but I do know that every day, we seem to wake up to awful news and my stomach and heart are sick over it.
Yes, #BlackLivesMatter. And #AllLivesMatter.
Human life matters.