So much is going on in the world, and yet work/family obligations necessarily keep me focused on my own little piece of it. I do scroll through the news feed on my phone every day, in horrified fascination, unable to look away.
Black lives matter. Well, of course they do. How can it be that we live in a world where, in this day and age, we still need to say that? And yet, we still do need to say that.
Some people don’t understand why those are the words that still need to be said. An excellent explanation of why, right now, it is “Black lives matter” and not “all lives matter” is from 18-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish. (And I think we have to acknowledge that the language of young people is valid, even if we might not express ourselves this way.)
“IF I HEAR ONE MORE WHITE PERSON SAY “aLL liVeS maTtEr” ONE MORE F**KING TIME IM GONNA LOSE MY F**KING MIND….
NO ONE IS SAYING YOUR LIFE DOESNT MATTER. NO ONE IS SAYING YOUR LIFE IS NOT HARD. NO ONE IS SAYING LITERALLY ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT YOU…… ALL YOU *** DO IS FIND A WAY TO MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. STOP MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE NOT IN NEED. YOU ARE NOT IN DANGER…
if your friend gets a cut on their arm are you gonna wait to give all your friends a bandaid first because all arms matter? NO youre gonna help your friend because THEY are in PAIN because THEY are in need because THEY ARE BLEEDING!
if someones house was on fire & someone is stuck in the house, are you gonna make the fire department go to every other house on the block first because all houses matter??? NO! BECAUSE THEY DONT F**CKING NEED IT.
YOU ARE PRIVILEGED WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. SOCIETY GIVES YOU PRIVILEGE JUST FOR BEING WHITE. YOU CAN BE POOR, YOU CAN BE STRUGGLING… AND STILL YOUR SKIN COLOR IS GIVING YOU MORE PRIVILEGE THAN YOU EVEN REALIZE. &NOBODY IS SAYING THAT MAKES YOU BETTER THAN ANYONE. IT JUST LETS YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT SURVIVING SIMPLY BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN COLOR!! YOU ARE PRIVILEGED!!”
I saw a video of an incident at the end of May that really highlighted this worry about surviving. The police said that a young Black man had run through a stop sign, and they tried to get him to pull over. Instead, he drove for two blocks into his grandmother’s driveway. Still he did not get out of the car for several minutes until his family was around. He begged the officers not to shoot him and his grandmother came out to intervene as well. Thinking about this from the police officers point of view, I’m sure that they suspected a much greater crime had taken place or why would the young man not have just pulled over?
But thinking about it from the young man’s point of view, why would he just pull over? How could he be sure of being safe all alone by the side of the road in the presence only of police officers? Wouldn’t he want to make sure his family was around to at least witness whatever might happen? Wouldn’t he feel that he had to beg the officers not to shoot him, when they made the assumption of a greater crime and pulled their guns?
This began as a routine traffic stop in which I would not have needed to be afraid. Because I am privileged.
I saw a song by Ruth B called, “If I Have a Son” which illustrates the fear perfectly:
There is systemic racism in Canada. I am privileged to work in an organization that is diverse and puts great value on diversity. I often make the mistake of thinking that that is the way the world is, and yet I know that it isn’t. It should be.
In Greater Vancouver where I live, only 1.2% of the population identify as Black, although 48.9% identify as part of a “visible minority” (2016 Census). Not included in this percentage, is the 2.5% who identify as Aboriginal or Indigenous. Not being part of these groups, I don’t know the systemic or other racism that they experience in their daily lives. I do know, though, that since April there have been 6 Indigenous people shot by police in Canada.
Police need to have a greater toolbox of appropriate techniques and be able to apply them in the heat of the moment to deescalate situations in all cases, rather than to escalate them as sometimes happens. Making greater use of non-police experts in active situations might help. Re-allocating funds to include relevant, non-violent skills might be a good idea.
As a child, I was taught that if I were ever in trouble, I should find a police officer and that they would help me. This should be true for everyone.