Philando Castile (left/top): https://cbsminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/philando-castile1.jpg?w=640&h=360&crop=1
Alton Sterling (right/bottom): http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/theadvocate.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/10/a108d4e5-1758-5859-b414-cab6c02e164d/577dbef69b6ff.image.jpg
Recently, two more black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling (pictured above), were killed by police officers. Alton Sterling was the father of five children. Alton Sterling was also passionate about food preparation, cooking was enjoyable for him, and he would cook in the shelter he lived in. Alton Sterling was kind, he made food for everyone, sharing his talent and love for cooking with the community in the shelter (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-painful-facts-about-alton-sterlings-life-and-death_us_577d1220e4b09b4c43c1b14e). Philando Castile was a straight "A" student growing up, and did very well in school. Philando Castile was a staff member at a Montessori school, he worked in the cafeteria. Philando Castile was an aspiring man in the field of education, and wanted to climb the ranks in that department (http://fusion.net/story/322473/who-is-philando-castile/). Alton Sterling was selling CDs, was not violently resisting the police officers in any way, and then was forced to the ground by an officer and shot. Philando Castile was pulled over by an officer due to a broken taillight in his car, followed procedure, and then was murdered by the police officer. How many deaths does this make of black individuals being killed by police officers? The Guardian estimates 136 lives in 2016 alone (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-people-killed-by-police-america_us_577da633e4b0c590f7e7fb17).
Our judicial system is condoning the use of violent racism by our criminal justice system. Black individuals are being killed by police officers, yet our courts fail to handle these cases with the justice they deserve; there are no legal consequences to the actions of the guilty police officers. White people are being put first, by our police and by our government, and that is how it always has been. Police officers pull over black people who are driving for minor misdemeanors, misdemeanors for which a white person would never be pulled over. "Before he was fatally shot by police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday evening, Philando Castile had been pulled over by Twin Cities police at least 52 times in recent years for petty traffic offenses like speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. The traffic stop which led to his death was similarly predicated on the officer's assertion that one of Castile's taillights was out...In 2001, a study commissioned by the Minnesota State Legislature examined data from 65 Minnesota law enforcement jurisdictions and found that in Twin Cities suburbs like (but not including) Falcon Heights, black drivers like Castile were stopped 310 percent more frequently than expected. Though white drivers were pulled over much less often, they were more likely to be caught with contraband in their cars once stopped" (http://theweek.com/speedreads/635042/twin-cities-police-stopped-philando-castile-52-times-petty-traffic-offenses . article written by Bonnie Kristian).
Additionally, white people who do not speak up are part of the problem. White people who do not talk about this, white people who refuse to use their privilege to support black individuals, who do not use their position of power in the systematic form of oppression that is racism to help put an end to the murders, are part of this issue.
I was scrolling through social media today and saw several posts from my friends voicing their support for the police, with hashtags that voice alliance with the police, which can be understandable given the recent shooting of those police officers in Dallas, but where is the support for the black community? Police officers died due to a rogue shooter, which is painful and terrible, and voicing support for the victims and their families is kind, but when did white people decide it was okay to ignore the fact that black lives are being brutally taken? Intentionally only supporting the white victims and their families is a form of racism.
Another trending hashtag among white people at the moment is '#bluelivesmatter', a mockery of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the hashtag '#blacklivesmatter'. I recently saw a picture that I felt helped describe why the hashtag '#bluelivesmatter' is problematic: the image was a black woman standing in front of police officers, holding a sign that read 'you're only "blue" 40 hours a week IM BLACK 24/7 365', I believe the original source for the image to be http://frontpagewoman.tumblr.com/post/147254026925/yes-blue-is-a-uniform. What this image does so well is communicate that the "blue" everyone is supporting can be taken off at the end of the day and thrown in the laundry, it's a uniform that does not come with a history of oppression at the hands of white people. The '#bluelivesmatter' hashtag is on par with behavior I witnessed a youth group of my school display; following another time when police were killing black people, the youth group decided to bring baked goods to the police, to show their support because of the "hard time police are having" (said the adult, youth group leader). The police were having "a hard time"? How about the black community? The community that has to live in fear of being murdered by the officers meant to protect society? How about actually helping those whose lives are in danger due to the threat of racially motivated police violence rather than essentially saying that "everyone" matters repeatedly?
To conclude, I will restate a question I asked on another social media platform a few days ago:
When will "to protect and serve" include black people?
I am a mixed-race, white-passing individual, and as a white-passing individual, I benefit from white privilege; everything written here is written from that perspective. As someone who benefits from white privilege, I must not speak over those who do not. If you are a person of color and you take issue to anything I have written, please let me know (by leaving a comment or contacting me more directly) so that I may make changes. If one has white privilege, they must not silence the voices of those who do not. Those who benefit from white privilege should speak out, not over.