By JUSTIN HANSON (@HunterHanson1)
Photo credit goes to PBS.
It is clear that -- at the very least -- the United States is not currently all that united right now. Frustration is boiling over around the country, and there are no signs to indicate an upcoming end to the events that have plagued us of late.
It didn’t stop with Philando Castile. It didn’t stop with Alton Sterling.
It hasn’t stopped with Dallas. And it hasn’t stopped with Baton Rouge.
The rumblings of racial tensions in America are not unique to this year -- or even this century -- but the rapid, voluminous and varied responses to unfortunate and fatal altercations between police and unarmed black citizens are unparalleled and cannot be ignored.
So let’s examine some of the issues at hand. One popular debate is between the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.” I’m not going to disagree with the statement that all lives matter, because they do.
It is remarkably sad I even have to say this, but: My life, as a white male, means no more than that of a black male, Hispanic female, white police officer, Asian male or any other human being. But here’s the point “All Live Matters” supporters are missing: Black lives matter, and they haven’t been treated that way – or, at least, they haven’t been treated like they matter the same amount as others’.
So, yeah, “All Lives Matter.” And I do believe most people who say it simply mean those three words, but if you phrase it like that, you inherently neglect the core of the issue and attempt to sidestep the whole problem.
The process of racial healing in this country has taken a very long time, and we have a long way to go. Progress will not speed up until whites are willing to accept that there are privileges and advantages to having the skin color they have because of the underlying biases of this country.
Likewise, healing won’t come if blacks blame whites for the institutional prejudice of the nation, as it is a creation of many prior generations and was not created by those who are often blamed. This does not, however, give pardon to those who continue to actively maintain and enact prejudices.
For example, do not blame a 20-year-old white kid for the underrepresentation of minorities in government, as the individual had no influence in the creation of that issue. However, if that same individual is promoting racism or uses racial slurs, they are most certainly in the wrong. Once again, the response to those who have wronged us, however, must be calculated and made with cool heads if we ever hope to solve the problems of our great land.
Progress will not speed up until whites are willing to accept that there are privileges and advantages to having the skin color they have because of the underlying biases of this country.
Another raging debate and incredibly sad issue in this country is the death of citizens at the hands of police and the retaliation against police around the country. Distrust, hostility and violence toward police have become increasingly large problems following the deaths of individuals like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
The actions of police toward blacks -- or at the barest of minimums, the popular perceptions of those actions -- have been the source of much of the widespread and passionate discussion on the issue. Deciphering whether or not there is an actual, measurable bias of police officers toward blacks is challenging.
What is more interesting to me, though, is not whether police actions are wrong but the remarkably high amount of people who believe they are. After all, regardless of the actual statistics, people’s individual beliefs and understandings of the situation will become the foundation upon which they make decisions and opinions about police.
The many protests in major cities around the country show there is a widespread distrust of police. Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown said his officers “don’t feel much support most days.” Some media members have begun to refer to the events of recent weeks, including the killing of five Dallas officers and three Baton Rouge officers, as a “war on police.”
This kind of rhetoric may be an exaggeration and tends to over represent the level of aggression -- or at least how widespread the aggression -- is, but finding our nation in a situation where that phrase can even be uttered saddens me.
Yes, there are “bad cops.” Yes, there are cops who have biases regarding race. If ordinary citizens continue to show distrust and anger toward all cops based on the mistakes of the few, it is no better than when police or others show distrust toward blacks because of the behavior of the few.
Assigning the guilt and negative traits of a small portion of a group to the whole of the group can very easily create massive issues. It fueled the Brexit, it fuels the strong negative feelings towards Hispanic immigrants -- “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” - Donald Trump – and it fuels the racial tension between whites and blacks. Now it is fueling the distrust and aggression towards police.
I still believe in this nation. We have our faults, and it has always been messy. But I believe we are a nation that finds a way to overcome, and we desperately need to find a way to prove that now. United we stand, or divided we fall.