Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my life was sports, movies and living comfortably. I grew up in Brainerd, a city much like Alexandria. Conservative-thinking citizens dominate the area with a blatant lack of diversity. In other words, an existential amount of white privilege.
I am a beneficiary of white privilege. I grew up without fear in everyday life. I never have to worry about life-or-death problems. If I see a cop car behind me when I'm going 15 over on the highway, I've never questioned whether that's going to be the last day of my life. That's not the case for Black people in this country.
When George Floyd paid with a $20 bill on May 25, he didn't know that he would be the face of the greatest revolution in modern history.
What happened to him is absolutely disgusting, but it's not unfathomable. It's been happening for the last 400 years. The protesting, rioting and looting that followed is something we haven't seen in some time. However, we need to understand why it's happening.
The Black Lives Matter movement only went so far with peaceful protests, kneeling for the anthem and sharing racially-charged videos on the internet. The riots began with frustration and turned into results. To say everybody is rioting for the right reasons is ignorant, but it's also ignorant to say that it doesn't have a core purpose. For the first time in a long time, people are listening.
Try and step out of your shoes and look at it from a different perspective. If you are a parent and your kid goes to the gas station and doesn't return, played at the park and doesn't return, went for a jog and doesn't return or reached for a license and doesn't return, I bet you would want to burn the city down too.
Ask yourself; if there wasn't mass outrage, would there be charges for all four officers that murdered George Floyd? Would Derek Chauvin's murder charge raise from third to second degree? Would Breonna Taylor's case be reopened? I'll answer for you. No.
Destroying businesses with looting and arson is a tough pill to swallow. And for those who lost stuff they can't replace is crushing. However, families lost loved ones due to police brutality and racism. They aren't coming back either.
Not all cops are corrupt cops
The Black Lives Matter movement is not a political issue, but rather a stance on human rights. You can be a Republican and be fed up with Black men and women dying at the hands of corrupt cops. This also means you can be a Democrat and understand that not all cops are corrupt.
Over the last few weeks, I've thought a lot about a Chris Rock skit where he talked about how there are some jobs that can’t have bad apples. We don’t accept bad apples in a group of pilots because we want to make sure they can all land a plane. You also don’t hear about the bad apples in the medical field. We need to hold law enforcement to the same standard.
How many bad apples are there? If you pick out a dozen apples and there’s only one bad one that’s a decent batch to bring home from the grocery store. That analogy doesn’t work with law enforcement. If there’s a corrupt cop out of every dozen, there’s a massive problem. We can’t use the bad apple excuse anymore.
Minneapolis wants to dismantle and reform the police. There's a spectrum between abolishing and reforming. On one side, some people want to do away with law enforcement as a whole. That's not the answer. On the other hand, people want minor tweaks in the police force's hierarchy to better prevent cases like this from happening.
The answer is somewhere in the middle. Maybe there needs to be a structural change in the system. When people call 911 for a burning building, the fire department shows up. If somebody has a heart attack, the ambulance shows up. What if there were more options for people to seek help when calling 911? Allocating government money for other resources is a viable option.
There are great people in law enforcement that are there to do the right thing. But we as a society need to do our part, and that's to keep pushing in this movement. Good cops will thrive, and the corrupt cops will flush themselves out.
Everybody has a role to play in this. Understand that you will never be able to understand what it’s like to be Black in America. Educate yourself on what’s happening and why it’s happening. Realize that willful ignorance fuels the racial undertones of this country. Recognize your white privilege and weaponize it for the good of the human race.