Monday, December 22, 2014

The Time is Now for Unity Not Divisions

         It's tense. The air is thick. But we have to move through it. We need to move together but before we do that - we need to listen to one another.
         I find it ironic how we want to demonize an entire movement that's mantra is‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, a movement in which the sanctity of life, the value of life including Black life is at its very core. I find it ironic that the very same people will say don't judge an entire political party, or faith community, or group of people by the despicable acts of a few - then are quick to blame hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters for the acts of a few. This movement has never been about revenge or vendettas, its always been about love. I have never felt more love in social justice movements than I have felt this year.
          People will say well why not then say ‪#‎AllLivesMatter‬, and I will say it is not all lives who have to justify their value and why they matter. It is not all life that has to prove why they don't deserve to be treated as sub-human. We as a society have decided who matters and who doesn't and we have proved it in the way the system works or doesn't work, who it oppresses, which countries we choose to wage war with and the increase and nonchalant usage of the word "collateral damage."
          As Officers Liu and Ramos are laid to rest, leaving behind loved ones, and how difficult it must be for them that we must also remember there are families who go to bed every night without their loved ones who are also lost to senseless violence, including police violence. Sisters and brothers, we can mourn the death OF police and BY police. They are not mutually exclusive. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, taxi-cab driver, cashier, street vendor or police officer - ALL lives matter. I will not engage in selective outrage over murders of innocent people. We should be calling each other to a higher moral ground - not engage in a divisive, toxic downward spinning cycle which creates more hate and animosity. This will not help us move closer to a better city, a better country or a better world.
         I respect this time, the funerals and families of Ramos and Liu, but asking Black Americans and communities of color to "stop protesting" indefinitely is unreasonable. To engage in requests to elected officials to suppress the constitutional rights of segments of the American population makes you no better then the countries we are quick to criticize for lack of democracy. We have waged wars on countries in the Middle East and forced democracies down their throats meanwhile we are calling for the suppression of free speech and freedom of assembly right here in the United States. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Might as well just call ourselves Saudi America.
         Racism exists. Its real. It does not need to be your personal experience for it to be real. Justice has not been served - and we have a long way to go. If not people, protest, pressure and policy? HOW? Have we forgot our history? Did Black men win the right to vote by sitting back and waiting for the "system" to take care of it? Did we end segregation by smoking a cigarette hoping someone realized it was a bad idea? Women's right to vote? The list goes on. The system that many of you believe so much in - is the same system that treats many poor people and people of color unfairly.
         Your video, the one with about 25-30 people chanting "dead cops" will never win any argument that this movement supports violence. Are Black Americans than allowed to use video of KKK members spewing hate and racism against Blacks and people of color to represent an entire segment of American society? Will we then be allowed to use videos and comments by prominent elected officials and blame them for the rapes of hundreds of women a year? I'll be waiting for your answer.
          Let's step back, reflect, take a deep breath. No one ever said this was easy. Life is not easy. Change is not easy. Open your minds and hearts - listen to one another. Make an attempt to understand where people are coming from and then come together. This is OUR city, whether you are Black, White, Asian, Latino, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, poor or rich - we must work towards justice and healing. So as long as parts of our community are shut out of the system and are without justice and equality - we all lose.
          I may seem naive for being optimistic. I live and breathe HOPE. I believe in us, I believe in our potential. We just have to see beyond our emotions, imagine a better world, and work towards it. It is the ONLY way.