Mel’s Monday Musings: June 1, 2020


Black lives matter.

The job of the police force is — or should be — to protect and serve the citizenry, the banner of which absolutely always must include every citizen of color.

Good police officers de-escalate confrontation. They are willing to put their own lives on the line rather than cross an uncrossable one. They listen to the concerns of all of the citizens in their jurisdiction, and they don’t let emotions drive their decision-making.

But that is not what we are seeing at many of these protests, and that is definitely not the default lived experience of Black people in America. Over and over, we see that Black skin makes people guilty until proven innocent. It makes them indelibly, always “suspicious” while going about their business. It makes them worth less in the eyes of the people who are supposed to embody the laws of the land…and to far too many officers, it makes their lives expendable.

Black people are not the problem. They never have been.

(And don’t talk to me about riots. If you’re more upset about looting and property destruction than you are about George Floyd’s murder — or that of David McAtee, or anyone else — at the hands of violent cops, you are part of the problem. And you cannot bring history into this discussion without seeing how riots have always been precursors to important American societal change! Crack a history book and take several seats while you do it.)

Police officers aren’t even the root cause of the problem, although they are very visible reminders that the problem — racism itself — pervades every system by which our society is framed.

[I’m not going to try to convince you that you should care as much about the life of someone who looks nothing like you as you do your own. I don’t even know where to begin to explain that. If you don’t already understand that every life is equal, you need more help than I am willing to attempt at this point.

I am telling you that silence is a choice. It is a privileged choice you make to look away, to not get involved. Laying “all of this” down for a while to recharge? Also privilege. Black people don’t get to peel their Blackness off for a day when it’s too exhausting to deal with another microaggression, too stressful to wonder if their Black husbands and sons who are out for a jog or walking to the store will make it home alive.]

It’s true that your involvement won’t bring Ahmaud Arbery back to his family. It won’t breathe life into Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, or any other Black person who died because this country is still so very racist. Not all of these people died at the hands of police officers, but all of them died for the “crime” of being a person of color. A huge part of dismantling systemic racism has to be getting it out of law enforcement. When the police use more force than necessary to bring a situation under control, it should have immediate and profound consequences for the officers involved. That’s not how it works right now though, in so many precincts.

Shit, we don’t even arrest white officers for murdering Black people in broad daylight unless there’s an ongoing public clamor for it to happen! How many deaths have we not seen because nobody recorded it and/or the evidence was covered up? How many officers have been quietly transferred rather than risking their misdeeds coming to light?

With privilege, with power, comes responsibility. White people, we must speak out and stand firmly in opposition of police violence against POCs. We have to get involved. Racial injustice cannot be allowed to remain the default setting of our legal system.

What can you do? Start here.

Start today.