By way of information and insight, I have nothing new to add to this week’s torrent of sad, angry and even shocking events that occurred across our country. All I have are my own somewhat examined thoughts, which are, as always, a work in progress.
Like everyone else, I am trouble. I am troubled by the continually developing racial divide in our country. I am also troubled by the perceptions and realities in our police force. I am deeply troubled by the lack of integrity within the media. And I am especially troubled by the laziness and attention span of We-The-People (myself included).
I spent the better part of the morning writing in great detail of my troubles only to grow tired of my own thoughts. However, some things still managed to linger as I gave up writing on the topic.
First, the three most newsworthy incidents from this week resulted in GoFundMe accounts for survivors:
- Close to $700,000 has been raised for a college fund for Alton Sterling’s children.
- Well over $250,000 has been raised for Philando Castile’s family, primarily for his mother.
- Just over $12,00 has been raised to be divided between the 12 officers and their families impacted by the Dallas shooting.
I am glad that the children of Mr. Sterling children and the mother of Mr. Castile have a chunk of security to ease their certain financial troubles right now. However, I am trying to understand how so little money has been raised for twelve of the Dallas Officers (of which, five also died) who no doubt had and have loved ones who will struggle financially during this time and in the years to come. I hope that there is some piece of information that I am missing and that over time those numbers will be more closely aligned.
Also churning uneasily in my mind is our immediate response to the Facebook live video that Lavish Diamond Reynolds broadcasted. From the moment this story broke, her after-the-fact version became the gospel truth and people latched onto it without even a shred of critical examination. Perhaps her version is the gospel truth…but still, should we not have reserved some judgement until Officer Yanez’s account had been disclosed and examined?
After the initial wave of emotional reaction to both of the shootings (Castile and Sterling) and the Facebook video, more information about the events did become available. By this time, though, the media outlets had their preferred narrative and they didn’t seem to want to refresh the details. When I first read that Mr. Castile had been pulled over as a result of being a “person of interest” in regards to a robbery (as opposed to a busted taillight) AND that he had his gun in his lap and there was some degree of noncompliance on his part, I waited for my Facebook feed and newsstand aps to explode with chatter and articles that would continue to examine this. One friend shared the same article I had read, but nothing more came. This alarmed me as the realization set in that a critical examination of the details was not necessary in forming a public opinion. It seemed, to me, the consensus would mostly stand at the point that Mr. Castile was murdered in cold blood by an officer who took the opportunity to kill him for simply being black.
The issue of police over reach and even brutality becomes more complicated each and every day. I know it exists. I accept (without condoning), that depending on who you are, what you are, where you live, or who you know…your experience with the police may be very different from someone else’s. Personally, I have, more often than not, been treated with condescension and rudeness from my local police, and in times when I was not even “in trouble”. I can only imagine what others have experienced. With that said, I have also known a few officers, locally and outside my hometown, who were proud to serve their communities with integrity and kindness, sacrificing a great deal to do so. I can only imagine what they go through in a day. I often struggle to reconcile the two extremes in my own heart and mind.
Another disturbing piece to this week’s events…we sent a bomb carrying robot into a space with the intention of killing a person. This is a weapon of war that we have brought into our cities and it’s use will have far reaching implications, perhaps changing how we handle these types of situations forever. I am making no judgement as to whether it was appropriate to use it in Dallas, only as to where it might lead and if we as a people are ready for that. I simply don’t know, myself.
Lastly, I continue to loathe words like “white privilege” and “black lives matter”. Yes, I have read the little antidotes explaining why they are relevant and I understand the message that underlies the words. Still, I find they do more to divide people than to bring people together. This does not make me racist and it does not validate my so called privilege.
There will be many things to contend with on the upcoming weeks, months and years in regards to the unsettled state of our country. Sadly, there seems no hope on the immediate horizon for a true leader to bring us through these darkening days. The truly privileged will sit over us all and continue in business-as-usual-politics while we fight with each other. And somewhere, someone will livestream it all on Facebook. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe not.