O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
This week’s headlines have been disastrous.
In one week, Jacob Blake was shot seven times for resisting arrest; while Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people, and officers stood by. Kyle wasn’t arrested until he fled the state after three nights of protests in his city.
Do you see the disparity here?
If those headlines weren’t enough to spark rage, consider these:
- ‘I’m Not Racist’ Says Arkansas Sheriff Who Used N-Word 9 Times Because Girlfriend Spoke to a Black Guy
- Three in Masks Sought in Denver House Fire That Killed Five
I will not tolerate this. I will not stand idly by while black families are being burned alive, being shot because they “might have had a gun/knife,” being insulted by racial slurs, and being otherwise targeted just for existing.
Look: I am well aware that all lives matter. They do. But “all lives” can’t matter until black lives matter. The reason why we say “black lives matter” is because society is treating black lives as though they DON’T matter, and that is not OK with me.
Why have a rebuttal to “black lives matter”? Why does it spark some people to clap back? Why not just agree that black lives matter?
We need to recognize patterns. We need to recognize that black people are being targeted every single day. That they are being hurt in this society every single day. That they are not treated the same as their white counterparts for the same action every single day.
When a white person resists arrest, and the officer aims his gun at the suspect, no shots are fired,
But when a black person complies with police, he is kicked from behind.
These are just a few of the numerous examples in this country.
Clearly, not EVERY police officer is bad. In fact, our Manchester police department does excellent work, I have heard nothing but good things about them, and I am grateful that we have them to protect our city. The problem, however, is that even if black people being treated poorly in this country isn’t happening in our backyard, it is still happening in starkly disproportionate numbers throughout the country. We cannot ignore this, and we need to find a solution.
There has been talk of “defunding” the police, but we need to be clear about what this means. First of all, we know that the defunding model works, because one of the most murderous cities in the country did it with complete success. Second, it’s not exactly “defunding,” which I believe is a misnomer. It’s more a restructuring model, where proactivity in reducing crime (as opposed to playing whack-a-mole and responding to calls as they come in) ultimately saved the city money. Third, no one is suggesting to simply retract funding and leaving the police department out on a limb. Rather, they suggest increasing mental health services, social workers, and case workers, so the police can respond to actual crimes, and the other professions can handle situations where the police don’t need to be involved. Again, this ultimately saves the city money through proactivity. I am on board with putting this plan into action, knowing it only illicits positive outcomes.
We can’t begin to address antiracism, though, without talking about implicit bias. There is a test you can take online to see where you stand. Our country’s history is saturated with racism and stereotypes. We need to check ourselves any time we might be acting with bias, so that we hold ourselves to the highest standard. Change starts with us.
Lastly, and most importantly, white people need to notice how our actions affect black people: specifically in the form of “microaggressions.” Microaggressions are based on implicit biases, and are often intentional. Sometimes, they aren’t exactly “micro.” To assume that Jacob Blake was reaching for a gun (even though it’s been shown that he did not have one in his car) is classified as a “microaggression,” which cost Blake his ability to walk.
If you are white, try to put yourself in the following shoes: that you are shopping for clothing and store employees start following you, because they assume you will steal. That you walk down the street, and women clutch their purses tighter. That people think you don’t know as much as your fellow colleague at work. That you were not offered a promotion, even though you’re a hard worker and have perfect attendance; and said promotion was given to a new employee with lower credentials than you. These instances would hurt you, would they not? Now imagine a lifetime of not being able to escape them.
We must say “black lives matter” because society is treating black lives as though they don’t. We must say black lives matter, because black lives do indeed matter.
I will not tolerate anything less than justice for my fellow human beings. We must navigate this world together, and advocate for the best for each other. Change starts with us.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? We welcome thoughtful prose on topics of general interest for consideration. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox.
Candace Moulton is a registered nurse and a mom of two. She is running for State Representative in Hillsborough District 44: Manchester wards 8, 9, and the town of Litchfield.