My heart hurts.  And that’s significant because my heart is battle tested.  It’s been toughened up by years of frustration, sorrow, anger, and humiliation.  It’s been broken and repaired so many times; the layers of scar tissue are like armor, protecting it from the ills of society.  My heart’s a fighter that has learned to deflect the jabs of indignity, dodge the constraints of perception, and withstand the flurry of punches representing the daily struggle with racism, subtle and overt.  But it grows weary of the fight.  Its reflexes have slowed with age.  My heart is ready to retire.  Just when it lets its guard down, BOOM.  It’s forced to recoil from another devastating blow as it hears of two more deaths of Black men at the hands of police officers and subsequent violence in Dallas directed at police officers.  This topic makes people uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as it is for those that deal with this very real fear every single day.  Police violence disproportionately affects the African American community. And we hurt.  We’re angry.  And we’re confused.  Because we can’t believe everyone doesn’t see what we see as obvious.  Blacks are being killed by those whom many of you see as your protectors.  It makes us feel unwanted, undervalued, vulnerable, and un-American.  It’s got to change.  But not by using violence in retaliation.

Benjamin Franklin said . . .

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Protestors holding up a Stolen Lives Project banner listing people killed by policemen. 15 August 2014 (Photo by Loavesofbread)

It’s time.  It’s time for the unaffected to be outraged.  You see it on the news, just like we do.  You see the videos of men who are either unarmed or otherwise subdued.  But they are still shot and killed.  You’ve seen a 12-year-old kid playing with a toy gun by himself in a park shot to death by officers in a squad car within 15 seconds of arriving on the scene.  You’ve seen victims in a choke hold exclaim, “I can’t breathe,” as multiple officers pin him down, only to watch him die right before your eyes.  You know the story of the neighborhood watchman who got out of his car to confront a teenager heading home from the store, only to shoot and kill him after a scuffle he initiated.  There are many more incidents, many more lives lost.  And for what?  This one was selling cigarettes.  This one was selling CD’s.  That one had a broken tail light.  This one changed lanes in an intersection.  For most of you, these “offenses” wouldn’t even warrant a citation.  But for others, this can be considered a capital offense, resulting in our death by justified shooting.  And it’s a fear we live with every single day.  We need your help.  It pains me to say this.  But we can’t do it alone.

We’ve protested.  We’ve rioted.  We’ve marched.  We’ve cried in press conferences.  We’ve appealed to the media.  We’ve prayed.  We’ve forgiven.  We’ve done everything we know to do.  And nothing is working.  We need your help–you–the unaffected.  Just like the 60s when Blacks and Whites marched arm in arm.  We are only 12 percent of the population.  And the rank and file American is weary of protest.  So our cries are falling on deaf ears.  We need voices with whom the masses identify to stand with us.  Lift YOUR voices up and be heard,  because deep down, you know this is a shameful practice that has to stop.  If you’re an American, stand by your fellow citizen in his time of crisis.  Unless you believe he is somehow less deserving, less American.  If you are a parent, you have imagined the horrific thought of losing your child.  Now imagine the ones you’d look to for help are the ones you’d fear will harm or kill your children.  Who do we call?  Put yourself in our shoes for a moment, then speak to that fear.  If you mourn the loss of the police officers who are killed while protecting those in a peaceful demonstration, but not the lives of those for whom the demonstrators marched, we need you now.

March for justice for victims of police violence. (Photo: The All-Nite Images)

I’m reaching out to Americans outside the Black Community.  If you’ve ever uttered the words, “All Lives Matter,” prove it.  Prove that you actually care about all lives.  Speak against this injustice, even if it’s just in casual conversation; or say nothing, letting others think that you’re okay with these injustices.  The NRA is one of the most powerful voting groups in this country.  As an NRA member, I’m calling you out.  The gentleman in Minnesota that was shot in his car who was with his girlfriend and daughter had told the police he was licensed to carry a gun.  He was exercising his 2nd Amendment right, that same right that you hold so dear.  When told to get his ID, he was shot and killed, trying to peacefully comply with the lawful order.  Will you now stand by your brother and defend his inalienable right,  or will you shrink from this responsibility because his skin color doesn’t fit your narrative.  If he wasn’t Black, would you stand up then?  We need you. 

Suburban stay-at-home mom . . . you have never had to sit down with your sons and warn them about the dangers of just driving or walking the streets patrolled by police officers.  You warn them of all the self-destructive things like drinking and drugs, but protecting them from the police is rarely, if ever, a concern.  I bet you’ve yet to experience your son confronted by three squad cars and a helicopter while jogging in his own neighborhood.  I have.  Your son has never had guns drawn on him with the very real possibility of him being shot if he so much as sneezes.  If you can imagine that for a moment, even in a nightmare, then you need to stand beside your fellow parents and show some empathy.  We need you.

Marchers sit on Market Street in Union Square, San Francisco, during a rally against police violence. (Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen)

If your heart was crushed when the 15-year-old son broke down and cried as his mother bravely spoke at a press conference, and he was hit with the realization that his daddy is never coming home.  If your soul ached when the 4-year-old daughter heard her mother’s tearful account of her boyfriend’s death, and comforted her by saying, “I’m here for you Mommy.”  Maybe you’re too cynical.  Maybe as long as it’s not you or your community, you’re kind of cool with it.  Or maybe you’re an actual human being with real feelings and compassion for your fellow man; and maybe you won’t be ashamed to voice your opinion.  We say #blacklivesmatter, not because we’re special, but because our lives just don’t seem to matter as much.  Especially when you consider that most of the people doing the killing never face conviction.  That’s the pattern: Administrative leave followed by a half-hearted investigation; then a trial; and an acquittal.  For us, it verifies what we already know, our lives don’t have the same value.

We have fought and died at the front lines of every American conflict.  We have been subjected to substandard treatment in every facet of society.  But we’re still here.  And we still love our country.  When can we count on our fellow Americans to stand with us on this one issue?  Can you really call yourself a patriot if you only support Americans that look like you?  Wrong is wrong, people.  It’s time to lift your #voicesup.

Agenda Bloggers: Written by Kevin Foster for “Social Almanac” | Want to comment?  Login/Register here.