Black Lives Matter and only the Racists disagree
Anger. Confusion. Shock.
These are the range of emotions I have felt over the past two weeks while watching the events unfold in our country and across the world.
First, I forced myself to watch the video of George Floyd suffer a slow death caught on camera for the entire world to see. I didn’t want to watch this video. How do you get yourself to stare at a screen for 10 minutes knowing you are watching a man have his life slowly and forcefully ripped away from him? I forced myself to watch this because I wanted to understand just what happened, why this happened, and how it could have happened. It is very clear: George Floyd was murdered. A police officer used unnecessary tactics and force to take away his life. The other officers, by ignorance, or by social pressure, stood alongside and let it happen. George Floyd’s daughter will grow up without a father because of this. Those officers lives and their families will also most likely be ruined as well. It is very sad.
And then, this past week, I watched in horror as I saw American cities being torn apart with riots, looting, and being burnt to the ground. One part of my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds were showing how uncivil, unruly, and violent our citizens and police have become. I rarely watch CNN or Fox News, but I saw videos, imagery, and commentary that was charged with fear as the people sitting in their homes shook their heads in disgust and wondered if this is truly the state of America in 2020. The rioting, looting, and violence was disgusting. I saw business owners get beaten by violent protesters and I watched idiots run into Target and run out carrying $20 lamps. I also saw police using excessive force arresting peaceful protesters, barreling over journalists, and shooting teargas at innocent citizens. It did not look like the America I know and love. It looked like a war-zone with the State using excessive force against its own citizens.
It is very hard to comprehend these shocking scenes we are all witnessing. It’s unthinkable how these scenes of rioting, fighting, and damage could even be occurring in America. We may be used to seeing this in developing parts of the world that suffer from social unrest and revolutions. This doesn’t happen here. But make no mistake, the people who are causing this mayhem are not joining protests for the right reasons. They are there to cause anarchy, confusion, rage, and anger. They are not the people that should be associated with the protesters who are sending the world the message that we all need to hear: Black Lives Matter. Just like we should be careful to not associate the violent anarchists with the peaceful protesters, we must also be careful to not associate with racist policemen and police departments with the police departments that are doing their jobs appropriately and fairly.
Hope. Joy. Optimism.
These are the other range of emotions that I felt as I saw peaceful protests, police empathizing and walking with protesters, and donations flowing into organizations to support the Black Community.
Among the chaos and fear that is being spread across our country, there were events that conflicted with this view of fear and division across the country. These so called Narrative Violations are very important to keep in mind. When you see them, it is like you have found a hidden gem that no one can see but you. I have seen this and amazingly to me, no one is talking about this: Our Country is NOT divided - we ALL want Freedom, Liberation, and Justice for the Black community.
It’s as clear as this tweet below:
Let me be clear: Racism is absolutely a problem in America (and across the world). The Black community has suffered for far too long within our criminal justice system for far too long. There are problems that need to be fixed. However, as I see different levels of support online, and talk with friends and colleagues, no one seems to disagree that the Black Community needs to be treated better by our criminal justice system. Admittedly, as much as I try to listen to and connect with different groups of people, there is probably some bubble that I am in. But again, I believe that these racists are in the minority. In a country of 329 million people, if as little as 0.05% of people are racists, we still have over 150,000 racists. Look at that percentage again. It’s .05%. For every 2,000 people in a room that means there is 1 racist. While the majority of us treat each other with respect, kindness, and work hard everyday to provide for our families, the 150,000 racists do the crazy shit that gets attention. This in turn gets spread across the news and every social media channel. Meanwhile, the Remaining 328 Million + of us then watch and read about these stupid acts and think this is the current state of America.
The images of police brutality and anarchists should not be reflective of all of America. These are the the 0.05% of every group that are idiots. Do not let the fear mongering driven by our media and politicians invoke these same emotions in you. Our media and politicians have a single objective, which is to rally people to their ideological camps and have them defend everything “their side” believes in. The media institutions are not going to show you what 99% of America is like, because 99% of America is objectively normal, peaceful, and believes in basic human rights. These news organizations roll out clickbait headlines and fear-inducing stories because they want you sitting in front of your TV or computer spending time on their channels and their sites. It’s how they make money. Politicians are no different. While these media institutions and political organizations, would like to place you in a box, remember it is ok to believe and resonate with many sides of an issue. You do not have to believe and defend everything Democrats do if you identify as a Democrat. You do not have to believe and defend everything Republicans do if you identify as a Republican. In fact, I would urge you to release your “identity” of being a Republican or Democrat - your views will become more nuanced and thoughtful. The image below highlights how I would imagine many of us feel (P.S. I understand the irony of this coming from Tucker Max).
While we have made progress over time in regards to racism in America, we are still not where we need to be. Even if studies and data can be interpreted and disprove the narrative of brutal force by police, it does not matter. All of the data in the world cannot make up for how the Black Community is feeling. If a young black man feels anxiety when he is being pulled, that feeling overpowers any data that could prove otherwise. And that is truly what we must fix. No one in the black community should be unfairly treated in our criminal justice system.
Now look, I could be completely wrong. My optimism and the perceived bubble I’m living in may just disprove my assumption that 0.05% of people are racist. But like I said, I am an optimist at heart. It is hard for me to truly believe that so many people could be that ignorant. I believe that love conquers hate and optimism triumphs fear.
To summarize my thoughts:
- The Black Community has suffered far too long in our Criminal Justice system
- 99.95% of America agrees that the Black Community needs to be treated better
- 0.05% of Americans are racists, but they get all the attention due to the crazy shit they do
- The Media and Politicians would like you to believe that 50% of the country is racist and our country is burning down. Do not fall for this false narrative. In fact, stop watching the news. Your life will become much better.
Points #3 and #4 should bring you the self-awareness to not trust what you hear from the media or politicians because of their perverse incentives. Points #1 and #2 should instill in you the determination and effort to want to help the Black Community.
I am not sure exactly what I can do to help. So far, I have donated to a few organizations and had conversations about race with the people I work and interact with on a daily basis. In upcoming election cycles, I plan on considering the previous actions towards the Black community of the people I am voting for. I’ve never liked a politician I’ve seen or met, but for now this is our only option: elect the people that we believe will do the right things and then hold them to that standard.
Outside of that, I have been brainstorming an idea of holding a free Zoom class for 1 hour every week where I teach personal finance and investing to young people in the Black Community. If that idea is worthwhile and you know anyone that would like to join let me know. Similarly, if you have any other ideas of how I can help, please reach out.
Progress starts from the bottom up. Educating yourself, participating in elections, treating black people (and all people) kindly and fairly everyday, organizing small groups. Whatever it is, you cannot wait for others to do something. You must take action.
Let’s all do our small part to help the Black community. Every little thing helps.
And for god sakes, stop watching CNN and Fox News.