Hey guys, Rob Jones here, one of Colin’s good college friends who happens to be black. We have stayed in contact long after graduating and the other day had a chance to share our thoughts about the events leading up to the murder of George Floyd. He said I helped him gain a better insight on the Black Lives Matter movement and asked me to share my perspective.
The following list of FAQs is meant to help those who think this is a clear-cut black and white issue, but feel they fall somewhere in the gray area. I’ve had these conversations periodically with Colin and other friends over the last few years, and constantly over the last few weeks. The goal is to help with any level of misunderstanding of the issue of race, police brutality, and what this or other protests are fighting for. The conversations must continue as long as racism exists.
This should be uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable, you aren’t getting the whole picture. America tends to have a tough time admitting when we’re wrong, but we can’t begin to right those wrongs until we first recognize the problem.
Why are we protesting?
These protests are a reaction to put an end to the systemic racism that still exists against people of color, especially in America. A recent stream of violent attacks on black individuals came to public light, taking the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now Rayshard Brooks. In the same timeframe, America witnessed a white woman’s attempt to use the police as a weapon against avid bird-watcher, Christian Cooper. History has seen millions of similar cases. But while these cases sparked outrage, it was the death of George Floyd at the knee of a police officer while three others watched that lit the final match in our hearts.
Racism has existed in America since the 1600s, and it is very much still alive today. Protests against racial injustice have occurred many times in American history (Watts riots of 1965, Rodney King riots of 1992, Ferguson in 2014, Baltimore in 2015, Colin Kaepernick in 2016, and many others), but these protests are different. Since the video was released on May 27, 2020 exposing the brutality of Floyd’s murder, the public response was immediate and worldwide, thanks to the power of social media and the growing frustration with the pandemic.
Social and racial injustice against people of color is not a new concept. The only difference today is that it’s being filmed and is harder to hide. It is time to realize that our culture has racism ingrained deep within it. Amy Cooper was not born racist, but learned from society that the power behind her privilege as a white woman could manipulate the police to inflict harm upon an innocent black man. She’s only one of many. We aren’t just protesting to address police brutality; we need to fix the issue of systemic racism still deeply rooted in our society.
NYC Woman Fired After Falsely Accusing Black Man of 'Attacking' Her | NowThis
Shouldn’t all lives matter?
Black Lives Matter never meant that ONLY black lives matter. They are currently not valued as equal in society. By saying that black lives matter, we ARE saying that all lives matter. All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.
Saying “All Lives Matter” diminishes the focus on the racial injustice specifically against the black community. It forces ignorance of the actual issue at hand, that people of color are “disproportionately impacted by police violence and systemic racism.”
We believe all people of color are disproportionately impacted by police violence and systemic racism. But by fighting against black oppression, we can better positively impact our society as a whole. Black lives currently need our help, so by supporting Black Lives Matter, it will eventually create equality for all lives.
What do the stats say?
Below are takeaways (and the references) from our research.
- A 2018 study concluded that “African-Americans died at the hands of police at a rate of 7.2 per million, while whites are killed at a rate of 2.9 per million.”
- Black people were 1.3 times more likely to be killed while unarmed than white people.
- Of the over 1000 deaths by police in 2019, black people comprised of 24%, despite only making up 13% of the population.
- From 2015-2020, the rate at which black people were killed by police was 2.4X higher than the rate for white people. Also of note, the Hispanic rate was 1.8X higher than for white people.
- Black men are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men; Latino men are nearly three times as likely. Native Americans are incarcerated at more than twice the rate of white Americans.
- And probably the worst stat of all: 99% of killings from 2013-2019 resulted in officers not being charged.
Why are we rioting and looting?
We’ve tried the peaceful route. We’ve marched, we’ve boycotted, we’ve stood, we’ve sat, we’ve kneeled, and each time the public has told us “do something else, we don’t like how you’re protesting.”
Trevor Noah explains this well in the video below saying that “society is a contract”, where we as a society of human beings agree to a set of common ideals. You see the looting as a violation of that social contract. But consider the perspective of a black mother seeing her kid interact with the police. Do you think she feels her kids are afforded the same level of protection and safety as a white mother’s kids? For generation after generation, black families have seen a society not abiding by this social contract. Some in society seem to feel extremely violated by the initial riots and looting, yet every time a black person gets murdered or beaten unjustly, all of a sudden that doesn’t seem to violate the contract as much.
George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper | The Daily Social Distancing Show
Emmanuel Acho compares this to a time he was biking and trying to pass another bicyclist. When he yelled multiple times to the other bicyclist “on your left” and she continued to ignore him, he ended up colliding with her, despite multiple intentions not to. When we yell time after time “We’re oppressed” and the course of action still hasn’t changed, there’s bound to be a collision.
Emmanual Acho - Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man
And we all agree, rioting and looting is not the best way to enact real change.
Killer Mike’s powerful speech was a call to action to stop “destroying our own homes”. Granted, at this point, there isn’t much rioting or looting anymore, and those inciters and opportunists are done for the most part. The riots and looting ended up distracting from the overall message. I will say, it took all this though, and even so only now do we have some of your attention.
Killer Mike - Atlanta - Mayor's Press Conference
How can we help as an individual and a society?
- Educate yourself. Take the information here only as a starting point because there is so much more to it than this post. One place to start would be to check out “13th” on Netflix for more on systemic racism. We must remember it is not the sole responsibility of black people to inform our society of the racism that still runs rampant. While we are willing to help society see what’s in front of them, they first must be willing to open their eyes. Imagine seeing racism all of your life and still needing to explain to white people that it exists. We all need to be willing to take the necessary steps ourselves.
13TH | Official trailer (2016) Netflix
- Have an uncomfortable talk. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; in order for society to move forward, everyone needs to be willing to help each other understand that racism is a societal problem, not just a police problem. Black people cannot do it alone. Share my perspective and create your own based on independent thinking. A lot of companies have put out statements showing their support, but I really appreciate Ben and Jerry’s call to action.
- VOTE. I don’t just mean for president either. I’m talking about local government (police chiefs, district attorneys, judges, mayors, governors, propositions) and federal government (senators and representatives, acts) officials. We need people in power with the resources to fight against systemic racism at all levels of government. We need to support the people in power with propositions that are well written and BLM Community-backed. Around election time we’ll share our perspective on officials and propositions.
- Donate to any of the racial injustice causes but know where your money is going. While it’s easy to feel the need to donate to hundreds of these causes, that may not be financially viable. As an alternative, consider a monthly donation, which has many advantages. The charities can be more effective when they can more readily rely on recurring donations. Also, when this issue becomes less of a priority in the media, you’ll know that you’re still contributing towards the cause, at times where the charity will be more desperate for help.
- Use your wallet to make a difference. Buy from locally owned black businesses and restaurants, consider where the companies you choose to support stand in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Support Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in the media. Watch films which include diverse talent, follow BIPOC celebrities and influencers on social media. Don’t underestimate the powerful effect that exposing our children to diverse role models can have on society.
As a society,
- Demand from our nation’s leaders to pass legislation against racial violence and hate crimes caused by citizens AND police. If we don’t condemn the current system of injustice, we are supporting it.
- Demand more stringent police training. This should include psychological and racial bias training, and possibly turning the Police Academy into a 2-year minimum degree program like other countries. It is their responsibility as those meant to “serve and protect” ALL citizens to be armed with a vast array of knowledge to pull from, just as many careers require. No citizen (of any color!) should die after being subdued. The training should teach that use of extreme force should ONLY be reserved for when the police perceive a legitimate threat.
- Demand psychological testing to rule out those pre-determined to have a tendency towards violence and racially charged anger. A background check and polygraph I don’t think are currently enough.
- Have employers perform more frequent and stringent social media monitoring of their employees. The problem with racism in social media posts is that there are no repercussions until a certain point is reached, usually involving violence. These posts are hurtful and further promote an environment of exclusion. If we can target the racially charged posts initially, we can get the employee the therapy they need, and serve them the justice necessary.
In the end, this is an issue in our society so large that there’s no ONE way to address it. A lot must be done and it will take some time.
We can do better. And we will. Real change is happening right now. Below are some positive things that have already started after a month of these historic protests.
- Minneapolis city council agreed to a complete reform of the police department, partly by redirecting more 911 calls to social services rather than police.
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “pledged to redirect some of New York City police department’s funding towards youth and social services. He committed to repealing section 50-A, which prevents the public from accessing disciplinary records of police officers.
- Louisiana City Council unanimously voted to pass “Breonna’s Law”, banning no-knock warrants and requiring body cams when serving warrants.
- Controversial statues all over America that represented periods of hate crimes against minorities (i.e. Christopher Columbus, Civil War confederate officials, etc.) are being removed by cities or destroyed by protesters.
- NASCAR, at the demand of their only black driver Bubba Wallace, has banned confederate flags at events and races. They also backed him up and responded swiftly to the “noose” incident.
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to cut $150 million from the LAPD budget of $1.86 billion. (The hope here is that those funds are then redirected towards other social programs).
- San Francisco mayor unveiled plans for police reform including demilitarization of police, ending the use of police as a response to Non-Criminal Activity, addressing police bias and strengthening accountability, and redirecting funding for racial equality.
And we’re still FAR from done. NOW is the time to take accountability for our actions as humans in this society. NOW is the time to decide how you want to remember what you did to fulfill society’s contract.
Thank you and one love,
--Brolonation’s Social Justice Ambassador