Listening to the Unheard

The debate, lately, seems to be: whose life actually matters? Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. All lives matter? Eh, not so much. People really need to stop saying that “all lives matter” because, while that is the ideal we should be striving to live by, it could not be further from the truth. There are boat loads of Syrian refugees that will strongly disagree with that notion. There are unarmed black men that have been killed because their life didn’t quite seem to matter, or at least not matter as much. Not to the shooter. Not to the public commenters. Let us never forget Trayvon Martin. A young, black child cutting through backyards to get home quickly while wearing a hooded sweatshirt and holding some skittles who was followed and killed. He was killed by some guy that felt that he was definitely a threat and his life had no value. I don’t care how old he looked. I don’t care how tall he was. I don’t care that he defended himself against a stranger that was lurking behind him in the dark. My sons are growing at a rapid pace. I will not be surprised if they look 23 when they are, in fact, only 17. I will not be surprised if they cut through backyards to get home more quickly. I will be surprised if my son is shot and killed for doing any of those things. And since they are growing up with a father who still has late night runs for skittles and will be teaching them to defend themselves, it’s not too far fetched to think that they will have similar actions as Martin did that night. And if some stranger trolling the streets of our neighborhood found it justifiable to kill him, I would demand justice. I would demand that garbage be locked away. And I would want to riot if none of those things happened to the killer. If some piece of crap decided my child’s life did not matter, based solely on the way he looked, I would make sure the world knew about it. Trayvon’s parents handled his death with much more grace than I imagine for myself.

We cannot be surprised that the killing of Trayvon Martin was the spark that added fuel to the already simmering fire. We cannot act as if there is no reason for these riots. And if feelings of oppression start to take over along with feelings of being unheard, you need to listen to them.  No, I do not think that the riots are helping the injustice effectively. I do not think looting and violence and starting literal fires are the way to be heard, but I will say that my basic cable TV was not interrupted to give me an update on the peaceful protests that were happening in uptown Charlotte. I’m about 20 miles north of uptown and if all the protests would have stayed peaceful I most likely wouldn’t even have heard about it, unless I tuned in for a 30 second segment on the 11 o’clock news or switched to CNN to see what sort of coverage they were offering. And in order for me to do that, I would have to be someone who was genuinely interested. Blame the media or whoever you want for that, but while I wish there was a better way to catch all of our attention and get everyone talking, the riots (so far) are what seems to be working. And as of now there have been five nights of protests with only 2 turning into riots. And really, it wasn’t until it was in uptown Charlotte, my favorite part of the city, that I started to feel a little territorial. “Oh no, I hope they don’t burn anything down and make it not pretty anymore.” “Shit, who is paying for all this damage?” “Why are they able to break all this stuff?” Well, they are able to cause the damage because they are in the middle of a riot. We cannot control how people react to anything. A riot, in a way, can be lessened to a group of people having a fit. Imagine back to when someone you truly loved was having a fit. When someone whose life truly mattered to you was flipping out. You let them throw what they were going to throw. Let them say what they wanted to say. Kick what they want. When people are in riot mode we just have to wait. Wait until they calm down and then start to work. Start to work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have to listen. We have to apologize. We have to communicate with one another. We all need to compromise and figure out what the next best step is that appeases both parties and no one else gets hurt.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” Words by Mlk, jr. not so often quoted

I have no idea how to create the solution we need right now. There is injustice happening. It’s not an opinion, but a fact that you can choose to either acknowledge or ignore. Just like the right to demand a peaceful protest and then talk about how Colin Kaepernick is the worst human being alive. What he’s doing is supposed to make you uncomfortable. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t pay attention. You wouldn’t be talking. That being said, I believe it’s a personal way of thinking that needs to catch on in order to make a change, and that’s the complicated part. It has to be with the individual. And the next individual. And the next, and so on and so on.  There are not enough people who acknowledge these injustices on their own to make a change. It needs to be seen and heard by everyone. And we cant blame police officers for doing what they think is needed in their line of duty.  We are not there. We cannot truly know what happened in each case or what was going on in their minds. They want to eat their next meal with their family. But we can question why they are so quick to shoot in so many cases that lethal force seemed nowhere near necessary. Why are they trained to shoot to kill? What about shoot to disarm? We all have a right to ask those questions. And we have the right to agree or disagree with the answers given. That’s the beauty of America. If you want to know something–ask. We cannot say that the police departments are corrupt and all officers are out to kill you. We cannot say that people of color or people who dress a certain way or people who wear their hair a certain way or people who are simply different from you are people that will harm you. That’s a very dangerous message to spread to our young children. Looking through the comment sections, that just continue to roll as you watch live feeds, the rhetoric was beyond divisive and straight up dangerous. There were people shouting with their keyboard: “All lives matter! Thugs!” “Lock up those animals!” “Get rid of them.” And there was someone that wrote, “Kill all the police!” Seriously? Did someone just say that? Just kill them all? Um, no. And luckily a lot of people pointed out how truly wrong it was to say such a thing. And there were people from all backgrounds seeing the danger in shouting things like that. And there was plenty more dangerous rhetoric being spewed out from the keyboard warriors on both sides. Hop on to your social media of choice and you cant miss it.

Let’s try to get on the same page here: The vast majority of police officers uphold their position with integrity and honesty and are genuinely trying to help you, no matter where you live or how you dress or the color of your skin. There’s a small percentage that either racially profile in a way that is extremely damaging or simply don’t have the right mentality under pressure to make a sound decision. That small percentage is making our boys (and women) in blue look bad. They need to take a seat. We can say that about all groups of people, right? Even so-called community watch volunteers, like the one I mentioned earlier? There is always a small percentage within a large group that do things no one condones and it can make the entire group be represented in a negative light. That isn’t very fair, is it? Should we really be grouping everyone together like this? Or should we truly just start looking at everyone as the individual they are and judge (if we must) solely on their actions and their actions alone? If you want “All lives matter” to truly be our way of life, let’s lend a hand to the ones who are being left behind. The ones who are being profiled. The ones currently being targeted. I believe black lives matter. I believe blue lives matter. You can believe both.

3 thoughts on “Listening to the Unheard

  1. All lives matter. All living beings matter. Why since the history of the world do human beings try to dominate each other and this world? Why do humans feel the need to exercise dominion over one another? Several years ago Newsweek asked the greatest scientist of the day to prove or disprove God. All were atheist at the time (as many scientist ). None are atheist now. They could not prove or disprove “God” What they did prove is ALL living things-that is plant life, animal life, sea life, humans, come from the SAME atom Let that sink in. All living things have the same source of origin. So who do we think we are? We are just another creation from a greater source. A source too great for our small human minds to comprehend.

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    1. Yes, all lives matter in one way or another and we are all part of some crazy cycle that none of us can explain. But what I’m referring to in this piece is that when we only chant that “all lives matter” we’re overlooking the lives that actually need a little bit of focus right now. And many who declare “all lives matter” in response to BLM, don’t truly mean that any way. A comparison I often see that makes a lot of sense is when talking about different types of cancer. All types of cancer matters and finding a cure for them all is important, but you don’t see someone at a breast cancer function chanting “all cancer matters!” “Lymphoma!” Prostate cancer matters!” We get it. Everyone matters to someone and something, but right now we have to listen to the ones who have the spotlight and try to understand rather than dominate.

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