It’s a cold day in America, figuratively. Blacks and whites are at each other’s throats, calling each other names, and accusing one another of being racist, bias, and/or prejudice. No, it’s not 1960, it’s 2016. Sadly, many Americans back then longed for the days when people could live in this country without injustice, racism, or hatred. Many of them fought and died for freedom and equality.
What is even more sad though is the fact that men and women don’t get paid the same salaries for the same jobs, black students are suspended from school four times as much as white students for the same offenses, and minorities earn about five dollars less per hour than their white counterparts. However, those are small issues compared to the war on the streets—black men being killed by white police officers.
We all remember the tragic stories of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and most recently Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Terence Crutcher. What is probably the most painful of these situations is the argument over whether or not these guys deserved to die instead of the reality that they are dead. People have lost friends over social media posts when it comes to race relations. Disputes over what lives matter or which ones matter the most has put a bitter taste in the mouths of most American citizens.
The words “Black Lives Matter” seem to bother many people. Those who oppose the movement either respond with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.”
This past summer, I had a conversation with my radio show co-host, Tammy Gaitor, about the impact one word could have on the slogan. What if people added the word “too” at the end of “Black Lives Matter?” Would it make a difference?
When black people say, “Black Lives Matter” they are not suggesting that other lives don’t matter. We are simply trying to say that our lives should matter as much as Dylann Roof’s, Timothy McVeigh, and the other numerous white men who manage to keep breathing after they are approached by police.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is about getting everyone to understand that black people want justice. Believe it or not, we want the black people who commit crimes to pay for their wrongdoings.
Not all of us are criminals. Not every move we make is suspicious. We would actually like to build trusting relationships with law enforcement, but both sides have to work together to make this happen.
Even if we have a criminal record or we have just committed a crime, it is not okay to shoot us. The law requires due process. When we break the law, read us our rights, search us, arrest us, and take us to trial. Cemeteries weren’t built for criminals, jails and prisons were.
If you really believe “All Lives Matter” then that means you believe that Black Lives Matter, Too!
Rodney Jordan is the author of the books, Tired of Being Black and From the Heart of a Teacher.