In the wake of the unjust deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, something needs to be said here. More importantly, these are not isolated incidents and so many unjust killings do not reach mass consciousness because nobody was there to hit record. Regardless of your political views or your stance on this issue, a black man should not be shot five times at a routine traffic stop. A black man should not be shot four times when he is already pinned down by two police officers. 500+ people should not be killed by cops this year alone. There is major reform that needs to be done to ensure that our brothers and sisters of this nation are not consistently targeted and prejudged for their skin color when it comes interactions with law enforcement.
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Here are the facts.
Every 7 hours cops kill an American Citizen
Only 1% of cops are indicted for their killings
Of people killed by cops in 2015, 50% were white and 26% were black. While this stat may look like there is no targeting of black lives, remember that the US is composed of 65% whites and 12% blacks, so at the end of it all, blacks are shot at twice the rate of whites.
Blacks are 30% more likely to be pulled over
Blacks are arrested at twice the rate of whites
The black & hispanic population, who make up only 30% of the population, make up half of the incarcerated population
As an ally, I cannot speak about the pain, about the fear of a community. I can only look at my friends, hear their concerns about their brothers, about their fathers. I can only look to my neighbors and see how they hang their heads a little lower in the wake of these incidents. I can only attend protests and chant along with my community and hear their voices. Because I can never fully understand, I have never had to fear as my brother walked out the door to go to school or stayed out late with friends until 1 in the morning. I never had to watch my father leave the door and fear that he might get pulled over while driving and never come home. I can only have empathy in this situation and say to POC that I am here for whatever you need me for, please lead the way, you have my support.
I would like to comment about what is going on in social media. First of all, it is amazing, encouraged, to express and voice and your concern, and let your community know that you stand with people of color in this trying time. While we support people of color and ask our lawmakers for a better system to indict cops who wrongfully kill on the job, we cannot become a house divided.
I see social media turning into an us vs them complex. I stand with my black brothers & sisters in the same way I stand with the men and women who honor the pledge to serve and protect our country. Generalizations are going to get us nowhere. Not all cops are bad. I have pointed out on my twitter that the problem is in system reform. We need to find a way to get cops properly prosecuted for illegal activities done on the job, like any other citizen in any other job would be. We need to find ways to reform the process of hiring police so that selfless warriors of justice are the ones who get to don the blue uniform. We can do this through more rigorous background checks, implicit bias tests, psychoanalysis, and required training hours dedicated towards education in empathy and intersectional communities. Most importantly, we need to approach the situation with empathy and love.
Scrolling through timelines, watching videos, and reading article after article is a great starting point. Twitter especially is a great place to get ground coverage, as people who attend the rallies and who are directly involved in the issue can be heard. I would highly recommend following Deray Mckesson, who is currently running for mayor of Baltimore and has been a social justice warrior during this time in addition to retweeting ample coverage for both sides. I have found amazing resources through his feed.
While scrolling through twitter, practice critical thinking. So much false information is being spread right now, and things can easily be taken out of context. Before you jump to any conclusions, double, triple check with multiple news sources and eyewitness accounts. Same goes with media outlets, they have their own biases. Be wary of information you spread and information you believe.
Once you properly educate yourself, it's time to act. On Thursday I attended a Black Lives Matter march with three of my friends. We started at the City Hall in downtown Los Angeles and walked 5 miles around downtown, uniting together and chanting, all the while smiling, hugging each other, and dancing. Overall, it lifted the community's spirits. The rally was organized by a group of 3 students, none over the age of 17- you don't have to be older to make a difference. At the end, somebody came forward and told us through his megaphone "This can't be a one time thing. This has to be weekly. Black lives matter today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. We need consistency if we want to see change." Systems are meant to withstand our momentary outrage, but they cannot withstand our organization and our constant urge for reform.
Here is what you can do.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 7, 2016
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How to Get Involved with this Issue
Follow the news. Listen to politician's & activist's speeches. Follow both sides of the issue. Read Between the World & Me. Learn about systematic oppression. Most importantly, ASK QUESTIONS. If you don't understand, ask.
Not only for president, but on bills and for your local politicians. Action and reform starts at home and in your community. Get involved in local politics and learn what your mayors, governors, and representatives stand for.
Contact Lawmakers & Politicians
Email lawmakers. Click here to find your local Congressman.
This may sound silly, but in addition to emailing them you can tweet them and comment on their Instagrams! Most local politicians don't have a big social media following so your voice is easier to be heard on those platforms. When we protested against fracking, over 400 people tweeted at one time to our mayor that we wanted to ban local fracking. You can bet that he or his social media team heard us.
& More specifically, demand that legislators create reform to address police violence. Campaign Zero is a GREAT resource.
Check social media and find your Black Lives Matter chapter here
By searching "Black Lives Matter + your city" you can find social media handles that are tweeting about current events and where to attend. Once you attend one you can get more information about future events. Be consistent in your protesting. Commit to once a month, once a week, or whenever you can. We can't just fight for freedom when it is trending, we have to fight consistently.
Raise the Voices of POC
Retweet personal anecdotes of POC. Attend rallies and let them know they are heard. Let your community know that you stand with POC.
Use Your Phone
If you see something suspicious or unjust, pull out your phone and hit record. If you don't have your phone on you but see somebody being harassed by the police, make it very apparent that you are attentive to the situation and are a witness.
If you are pulled over by a police officer, know your rights. You have every right to record the encounter.
Discuss & Share
Not only on social media but at community meetings, between your friends and your family. Share this article with someone. Share your stance and opinion. Make sure that you enter into every discussion with empathy and respect above all else.
It is our duty to fight for our freedom
It is our duty to win
We must love each other and support each other
We have nothing to lose but our chains