The Left – He was a loving family man, a staple of his community. He was a deacon in the church, he was well-known for his big heart and warming smile.
The Right – He was a criminal, there was a warrant out for his arrest. He had a rap sheet as long Psalms 119, he had PCP and was disobeying the officer’s direct orders.
Whether the left is correct or the right is correct doesn’t matter. We have a problem. Regardless of how big or small you may think the problem is, arguing about it doesn’t change the fact that the problem exists. I don’t think anyone who is in their right mind can argue that.
We like to talk about problems and how big they are. We may even toss in an idea on how to fix them, but we rarely do. What I write below is from the viewpoint of someone who would prefer that African-American people nor cops get gunned down in the street and will be looking at this issue strictly as what is happening. I believe families, Jesus or the lack there of, community, and education all play a huge role in what is happening in all of society but I am going to leave those factors out or at least try to and strictly look at the issue at hand. Below are my response to the police, the African-American community, and us who are more of a 3rd party in this issue
To the Police
I got pulled over a few months ago for speeding. When the officer walked up to my car and asked for insurance, license and, registration, I realized I had forgotten to grab my registration out of the glove box. Thinking nothing of it I reached for the glove box and saw the officers hand head towards his gun. I can’t imagine having that type of fear at my daily job. I really can’t. I know I am good person who wouldn’t harm anyone, but the officer doesn’t. When I reach for my glove box I know a weapon isn’t in there, the officer doesn’t. I understand where you are coming from. I understand the stress this job puts on you and the family type atmosphere you have with your fellow officers who patrol the same streets you do. But no matter how tight of a family you have created one thing must go above everything else, and that is what is right. You see a fellow officer treating someone poorly, you stop them. You see a fellow officer repeatedly kick someone who has been cuffed, you stop them. You see a fellow officer pull out a gun on an innocent person, you stop them. You see an officer shoot an innocent person, you arrest them. 99.9% of cops are good. The best thing you can do is recognize that the .01 does exist and do everything in your power to not let them define you as whole. Don’t let your identity be defined from the worst of the group. Let it be defined by the best
Reach out the communities you serve in. Have a heart to heart and apologize for the actions of a few bad cops. Cry with them because you know they didn’t deserve what happened. Ask them how you can improve in your procedures, ask them how you can help them feel more comfortable around the police. Listen to what they say and start training your officers in the solutions they offer. It won’t be easy. It really won’t be. But when love is the foundation peace can be had and I know for myself I would rather do something difficult for lasting change than sit around talking about it. Thank you for service and all that you do. I appreciate it even if that doesn’t always come across.
To the African-American Community
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” – MLK.
I understand the mindset of you want to gun us down, we will gun you down. Tit for tat. Unfortunately that won’t work. Are you interested in fixing the problem or reciprocating violence? If you are interested in fixing the problem. Awesome, so am I. In my mind here’s where you start. Humble yourself to the police. Vocalize that you understand the stress they go through. Even if you don’t mean it or believe it, it will help ease their stress. Stand arm in arm with the good cops. When a cop shoots an innocent person realize that is a bad cop. Not every cop. Be outraged at the cop! Be furious!!! But don’t stereotype the police force because of it. If you don’t want to be stereotyped then stop stereotyping others.
Step up! You don’t like cops or how they treat you. Become one. Be the change you want to see. If your neighborhood grows up with the will to one day become cops so they can better serve the community they grew up in; that is when change happens. This argument of well the cops need to change is accurate. The counter argument that you need to change is accurate as well. Change needs to come from both sides. Stop arguing about who should change and step up and change it yourself. Sit down with the local police force and have a heart to heart. Apologize for your friend or sibling or others in the community who gunned down an officer with the emphasis that they were a bad apple. Tell them they are an outlier of a community. Not the norm. Don’t identify yourself with the bad apples. Identify yourself with the good ones. Tell them and show them you are just as peaceful and deserves as much respect as any other ethnicity. Ask the force what the best possible way to respond is when we are pulled over. Ask how we can put the officer’s mind at ease. Is it fair that you guys may have to above and beyond what other races do when it comes to how the police force views you? Absolutely not!! It’s not fair at all. But that is the point. Stop complaining about how it’s not fair and start making change so it won’t matter whether the system is fair or not because the system will no longer exist. Love brings us together not violence.
To Everyone Else
I see you debating about it on Facebook. Should Kaepernick kneel or stand? He’s raising awareness. He’s disrespecting the flag. I see others post links to different shootings with words such as “I am shaking. Weeping. Afraid. Overcome with grief. God have mercy.” I love the emotions you feel and that we all feel. Unfortunately for us a Facebook post doesn’t evoke change and in reality it doesn’t even start a conversation, just an argument.
When I drive on the freeway and see a click it or ticket sign I always wonder who it is for. Everybody in this country knows to where there seatbelt. At this point it is a decision you make not to. That sign is not going to convict the 1% of people who choose not to. The small percent of true racists are not going to be swayed by your Facebook citing what is wrong. Level headed people understand that racism is wrong. Crazy people are rooted in their racist ways just like the non-seat belt wearers are. Your words are meaningless if not backed up by action. True action. Kaepernick is taking a stand ironically by taking a knee. I respect that. But what is the end goal here? He donated a million dollars. Awesome. But what is that going to change? All you people complain about the wrongs which are going on, I hear you, I do. But let me ask you this. When is the last time you have been to the ghetto? Never? A couple of years ago? Trust me you know where it is. It’s the place you are scared to go to, or at least scared to go to past a certain time. I hear what you are saying but I don’t see you in those streets helping build the community. Raising awareness even donating money are not bad things, but they are not close to as valuable as YOUR time. If you care as much as it seems you do on FB, go walk the streets handing out free lunches. Get to know the community. Volunteer to help these kids learn how to read. You do construction? Awesome!! Take your Saturday and volunteer in the ghetto by fixing someone’s leaky roof. Show them positive role models no matter what your skin color and show them you not only care, but you love them. Don’t just love your neighbor when it’s a rich guy who owns a boat that you get to use. Love them when it’s the house at the end of the cul-de-sac who you are afraid to make eye contact with. The house you tell your kids to stay away from. Love them!! Stop telling me about how I should love my neighbor from behind your keyboard when you don’t even know your neighbors name.
I say all this because it appears you care based on all the Facebook arguments you get in about it. If you don’t truly care then that is your choice. If getting to know your neighbor or serving meals in the part of town you feel uncomfortable in is too tall an order for you. Fine. Just stop the pretending. Don’t get on your high horse when your high horse is tied up in the nice part of town. It might be time to take that high horse out for a ride and you know exactly where you need to go. Love means nothing without actions. Nobody is forcing you to love everyone, but if you are going to continually preach it. It may be time to start practicing it as well.