I don’t typically write controversial stuff. I woke up last night and checked my phone to see what time it was. I saw a bunch of news updates about the shootings in Dallas. Coupled with the recent shootings of civilians, my heart was heavy. I tried going back to sleep and couldn’t. So, I started typing.
I’m not sure if living in Minnesota makes it different. We’re closer to what has happened. If we lived in Maine or Montana, maybe it would be easier to say how unfortunate it was and what a crazy world we live in. But we live so close. So close that hubs was actually pulled over twice in a month in that same jurisdiction for minimal reasons. It hits very close to home. Proximity to the events shouldn’t matter, but I feel often it’s easier to just change a channel or turn off social media and pretend nothing terrible has happened. We have a problem. We as a country. Is it the culture of the police forces, the frustration of the black citizens? Where does it stop? How and when can we “start over”? I get that some were “justified” (rightly or not- I’m strictly speaking based on the findings of the legal system). But how, even when you do what you’re told, you still get shot. How can that help? How can we move past that? Are police trigger happy because they’re expecting the worst? Are black citizens on edge because they’re assuming they’re going to get shot and ultimately the energy becomes fatal?
It is not just about being confronted by police and getting shot. It starts before that. It’s about being singled out because of the pigment of your skin. About having a higher chance of getting pulled over because you aren’t as pasty white as me. Hubs was on his way to an ambulance ride along for school. He was dressed in business casual (not that it should even matter). It was early in the morning, still dark out. As he was nearing the hospital, he got pulled over for burnt out taillight. After a few preliminary questions, he was given a warning and left. A few weeks later, in that same jurisdiction, he was pulled over because a small part of the tag on the license plate was behind the license plate holder (apparently that’s a thing we weren’t aware of in MN). Why wasn’t it addressed in the first stop? Thank GOD the incidents were eventless. He was covered, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it- but he walked away.
I fear for him, my 3 boys and our countless friends and family. I have family and friends who are police officers, both black and white. I fear for them. I fear because I don’t assume the police will always shoot. I fear because nowadays a simple misunderstanding can take a life. Has it become a shoot now, ask questions later society? I’m not saying that all police are trigger happy. People are angry. Angry at a system that that we’ve been taught is supposed to serve and protect, yet people are being killed with little cause in some cases. But how can you generalize a whole population of police based on the actions of some ill trained or bad apples? Isn’t that the same as generalizing the whole black population as thugs? The cycle has to stop- but where?
I know not everyone agrees. If you don’t see a problem with what has been happening, please take a moment and walk through this with me. Imagine you are minding your own business, driving home from a long day of work, and are pulled over. Imagine, instead of the officer simply asking for your ID, you’re asked to put your hands in the air. Of course you’re puzzled. This is just a routine traffic stop and you certainly have nothing to hide or to harm right? The police officer approaches the vehicle with caution and you can see that there is tension. You are asked to step out of the car. Seriously! For a traffic stop? You don’t understand and you begin to ask. “Officer, what is the problem? Is there something I should be aware of?” The officer, feeling that you’re asking too many questions, asks you to put your hands behind your head and to stop talking. Because you’re puzzled and wondering what the heck is going on, you ask again. This time, the officer, feeling that you’re resisting the instructions, escorts you to the ground roughly. Your arm hurts, it’s pinned behind your back and you are still in shock as to why this is even happening. You should be sitting at home right this minute with your spouse, children, pets, whatever. You should not be on the ground, outside of your car, pinned by a police officer that is now shouting at you to sit still and quit resisting. Still not understanding how it has even escalated to this point, you ask again what is happening. Now you feel a weapon on your back. You are getting verbal warnings to stop talking. A simple misunderstanding, confusion, and it could end very badly. This was a routine traffic stop. Imagine now, that the person in this scenario is your child, your sibling. Can you begin to understand how terrifying this is for parents? For spouses? Families?
As a country, we need prayer, lots of it. We need to come together, ALL of us, and have a grown up discussion. Instead of talking about the symptoms, we need to talk about the actual disease that is plaguing our nation. We need to have a civilized discussion where all opinions can be heard and respected. Where people can talk openly without repercussions and criticism. We need people to step outside of their comfortable zones and see what is really happening. It’s easy to turn away and pretend this chaos does not exist. When you don’t feel it or know someone who could be a target, it’s easy to just nod politely and go about your business.
Also, do not misunderstand me. I am in NO WAY saying that one person’s life is more important than another. Historically black Americans were seen as “less than”. That perception, that has been dragged into modern day, in a nonchalant kind of way, needs to end. Black, white, police, civilian- we are all equal.
We cannot correct this issue until ALL people start to understand it and have sympathy of what is going on. I’ve had so many people tell me that racism doesn’t exist, racial profiling is fake. That is the ignorance that fuels this fire! I will be praying for our leaders, current and incoming. I’m praying that this might be addressed as passionately as the economy and terrorism. If we as a community, a state, a nation, do not push to make a change, when will it end?