Let's start here. Most of you who read this know me. Those who don't, let me introduce who I am.
I am the epitome of privilege. I am a white, cis, straight male. I am 6'7", a trait that has its own inherent privilege. I grew up what I will call upper middle class. I cannot for a minute begin to know the struggle of People of Color (POC) in America.
I grew up in a town that had some diversity. There were people of Latinx descent, different Asian descents, but few black families, indigenous, or other POC families. However, I come from a primarily white community in Colorado. I now live in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I've always bristled at the #AllLivesMatter nonsense. Yes, all lives matter. However, until we acknowledge that some lives are not treated equally, the only thing I get from #AllLivesMatter is that your life matters more than others.
Until we can begin to address the systemic inequities that lead to what we're seeing in the United States, #AllLivesMatter is disingenuous. I'm being very kind in saying that.
In fact, the news story that's been front of mind for nearly three months now, but is now being overshadowed by the aftermath of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis is a good place to start with this conversation. Covid-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color in the United States. Why?
Access to medical care, proximity to one another, lack of health insurance, unequal banking practices, and countless other examples of systemic inequality mean it's harder for POC to fight against virulent pandemics like Covid-19.
In a time when marginalized communities around this country are seeing their friends, family, and neighbors die in numbers far out of balance with their piece of the population, the video of George Floyd's murder surfaces.
This is another one. We've seen Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery (I'm sorry if I've misspelled any of the names) and countless other black men and women killed in situations and ways that, as a white man, I can't fathom becoming fatal.
No one should die because they go for a jog. No one should die in their own apartment from a home invasion, especially if that invasion is from a police officer.
Please don't come at me with a #NotAll whatever. I know that. No one is, in good faith, arguing that all police officers, or white people, or protesters, or anything are bad. I've seen countless examples of protesters protecting police officers or trying to talk bad actors in their ranks down. I've seen countless examples of members of various police forces laying down arms, taking off tactical gear, and otherwise joining the ranks of the protesters. I absolutely believe that the majority of police officers are on the side of justice.
If I was found with my knee in the neck of a dead man, I'd be in jail. Period. I understand that there are many circumstances wherein a law enforcement officer has to use lethal force to keep people safe. Nothing in the George Floyd case indicates the officer on his neck was protecting the greater public safety. I've seen it was a bad check, I've also seen that it was a counterfeit bill. Neither of those things should be a death sentence.
I've heard Floyd resisted arrest. I haven't watched the longer video because after watching the Ahmaud Arbery video and the initial George Floyd, I've no interest in watching as another black man is murdered extrajudicially. I don't want to watch video of people dying.
Even if he did resist, which I've mostly seen that the longer video doesn't conclusively show, that's still not cause for the officer, whose name I've no interest in repeating, to kneel on his neck at all. That's not, as far as I know, an approved restraint technique. If I'm wrong about that, I'll happily amend this post. Please let me know, friends who are in law enforcement, if I'm mistaken here.
So, this happens on Monday. The officer who killed George Floyd isn't arrested until Friday. The other officers, who are complicit in NOT STOPPING MURDER, should have been arrested as well. It should've happened Tuesday.
So we have protests. And protests that turn violent. I do not condone the looting or any form of violence. One has to acknowledge, however, that there are reports of outside instigators, and that many of those damaging property are not the BLM protesters. I don't know. I just want to make sure I'm as fair as I can be.
Kaepernick peacefully took a knee on the sidelines. That wasn't okay. Celebrities protest at awards shows peacefully. That's not okay. Peaceful protests that disrupt traffic aren't okay. The message delivered is that peaceful protest is fine, so long as I don't have to know about it. That doesn't seem to make much sense.
I hate seeing cities that I love fall into chaos in the hours after dark. I hate seeing these peaceful protests get a bad name by the actions of a few bad actors (or maybe outside instigators). I hate seeing the actions of a number of police officers give a bad name to the officers and departments around this country who are trying to work in concert with their communities.
There are so many more things that I can do. I know I am not doing everything I can. I'm trying to learn. I'm trying to do better everyday. I want to be a better advocate for marginalized communities.
I realize that even the language I've used here may be biased. It's my own fault. I am sure that I have biases that I don't know about, so haven't been able to work on. I'm trying to do better.
To those hurting; to those who feel like their voices go unheard, their calls unheeded; to people whose daily existence involves constant fear; to anyone who feels hopeless; I want to hear you. I want to help. I am on your side, even if things I do or say don't always say or do the right thing.
I have to end this by acknowledging that in the past I've used slurs, told racist jokes, and exhibited behaviors that are in exact contrast to what I'm putting out there in this post and in how I try to live my life day-to-day. It was wrong then. I don't care if it was a different time or I was young and didn't know. It was wrong and I'm deeply sorry that I did those things, whether it directly hurt someone or not. It isn't right.
I know I still make mistakes every day. If we expect perfection of ourselves, then we're setting ourselves up to fail. I promise to acknowledge and correct mistakes. I apologize to anyone who I may have hurt from being careless or outright hurtful, because I've done both.
If I can't work on me, I can't walk with the people who I want to help lift up. We all have to acknowledge our shortcomings before we can help this country move forward.