Many of us can sit at our computers and make posts about how senseless it is for rioters to burn down their own communities. We can play internet researcher and pull up memes comparing peaceful protests to violent protests. We can act superior and more civilized, shaming those who are protesting violently, and wag a finger at them, pointing out that they are in essence the root of the problem.
Yet until we have empathy and can in some way grasp the depth of their despair, their frustration, this cycle of violence—violence perpetrated by all colors—will continue.
Frankly, I don’t see any end to this until the white community—which I am a part of—can take a moment to step out of our skin and try to understand what people of color of are trying to tell us WITHOUT us making some excuse. We need to listen. We never really listen.
You are being disingenuous if you can honestly say that a murder of an impoverished young black girl doesn’t seem as tragic to our society as when a pretty little girl with blond curls and big blue eyes is murdered.
It is one reason they came up with “Black Lives Matter.” Yet, instead of trying to listen to what they were telling us—trying to get our attention without burning down buildings—we grew incensed and accused them of saying “only black lives matter.” We refused to listen to what they were trying to tell us. We intentionally twisted their words. We hijacked their phrase and turned it into “Blue Lives Matter.”
And while violence against police is a serious issue, it was NOT what that discussion was about. We hijacked their discussion. We refused to listen to their problem and only wanted to talk about us.
And when a football player decided to call attention to the problem by a peaceful protest of kneeling during the National Anthem, we did not listen. Again, we got incensed and accused him of disrespecting the military, in spite of the fact we were repeatedly told that that was not what it was about. Even vets came forward and said they had fought for his right to peacefully protest.
But again, we wouldn’t listen. And those incensed made sure the protestor was punished for his audacity.
And what happens when we refuse to listen to a segment of a society? When we change the subject, make excuses, or point out something they did wrong during another time.
The frustration builds and then something happens, like a public killing of a man by police officers and idiot people go on social media and mock the tragedy, make light of it, or turn the discussion to bad things the blacks have done over the years, instead of focusing on the tragedy at the moment and the societal problem that enabled it to happen.
What happens is people start throwing things. And I imagine there are other factors too, people behind the scene with their own agendas who provoke those already frustrated citizens for their own motives.
Until we embrace some empathy and step out of our own skin and take a moment to truly try and understand what they are telling us without us making this about us or coming up with excuses, this will never end…and if it does, it will not end well.