… and not #alllives matter. Yet another day, yet another report of a person of color dying in police custody or being killed during a confrontation with police, and yet so few of these incidents end up in the mainstream media. In 2015, a total of 1024 people were killed by police, with 303 of them classified as black (The Guardian’s ‘The Counted’). With African Americans or blacks making up about 12.2% of the population, according to the 2010 census, the staggering percentage of nearly 30% shows how disproportionately people of color are being targeted. Deaths are occurring not just in these interactions between police and alleged offender, but in police custody as well. Most notably we have the death of Sandra Bland, and most recently Joyce Curnell, who was not only arrested in the hospital for unpaid court fines, died after being denied water and necessary medical care. This data does not reflect what I and many feel is the systematic targeting by police of people of color, the Earl Sampson’s of the country, a young man who was harassed more than 258 times, arrested for trespassing AT THE PLACE WHERE HE WORKED, and jailed (This American Life).
So of course, all lives matters. That is not what this is about, though. Just like we have BET and Black history month, leaving people to ask where White History Month or White Entertainment Television is, we have white people trying to balance a perceived exclusion to the privilege they have grown accustomed to having. The answer is this – every month is White History Month, every other station on TV is White Entertainment television, and #whitelivesalreadymatter. What the movement is attempting to convey is that Black lives are being systematically terminated with little to no recourse. According to an article published by the Washington Post in April 2015, in all of the THOUSANDS of police shootings that ended in a death in the last 10 years, exactly 54 have been brought to trial, with almost all acquitted or cleared. 43 of these 54 officers were white, 33 victims were black ( Washington Post article).
If all lives truly mattered, equally in practice and under the law, we wouldn’t need #Blacklivesmatter. Until that happens, we do. We need to be reminded of the systematic injustices, the loss of life, the people impacted. These are not nameless, faceless, criminal numbers on a page but living and breathing human beings. Like Sandra Bland, I was pulled over in Texas while on a road trip in a car with out of state plates. This happened about a month before her death. My often salty sister was annoyed, expressing her displeasure to the officer. She was made to stand in the field while I sat, un-handcuffed in the front seat of the police car. He checked my info and gave me a warning for following too closely and sent us on our way. I am white, and I feel it in my bones, with every fiber of my being, that what happened to Sandra Bland was influenced by her race. Which is why, as a white person, I am trying to stand up and say, this is wrong. A system that denies justice for some is a system that denies liberty for all. #Blacklivesmatter.