We are an emotional society.
We want answers, justice, and peace, and we think, discuss and act based on our feelings.
But we will not achieve anything through bereavement and hate.
This kind of behavior shapes a constant cycle that renders the topic of racism untouchable, non-relatable, and non-discussible.
It is dark and we cannot see, we cannot breathe.
But our cries and our chants, our fear and our hate are not good enough.
Mourning is important, but it is an inadequate way to promote change.
Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trevon Martin, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, these are names we should remember and honor, but they are not the platform in which we should lead off of to demonstrate our outrage.
Instead of looking at the real issues that are allowing these murders over and over again, instead of demanding that our government change in order to actually function for and by the people, we are more concerned with how what we say makes people feel.
We are talking about who has a right to say what and when, we are speaking past one another about events that have broken our hearts but that cannot rebuild our country.
Our emotions are slowing down our aspirations, and if something is ever going to be done, we must aspire to redefine this nation’s identity.
Police brutality is an abominable action that causes men and women leave their homes fearing that their children, siblings, or spouses will be shot down and murdered for the color of their skin.
This is an intimate, deep, and powerful fear, and it should not exist in the minds of our citizens.
But police brutality is also a problem that feeds off of the systemic biases and political violence of a nation.
It is a historical and ongoing economic and political plot to keep specific people from obtaining a better and equal quality of life.
Like dust, American citizens are swept under the carpet, hidden in the fabrics of forgotten neighborhoods and overlooked schools.
And if that doesn’t do it, they are put in prisons, leaving their children alone and unsupported.
Accomplishments and success are faded or tainted because of national prejudices that disregard the brilliance of black culture by commercializing and whitening it.
As an American minority member you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t and no one ever stops to stand up and shout “enough”, but then again, no one ever acknowledges that there is a problem in the first place.
It is important to declare ones outrage and it is true that black lives are constantly targeted, but it is ineffective to make this solely an issue of police brutality.
That is a branch on a tree of racism that is rooted through this country.
When Philando Castile was bleeding to death in his car, his fiancé pleaded to the officer, “He has never been arrested or nothing, he isn’t in a gang or nothing”.
This concept is the soil around this tree that nourishes each branch of structural and social violence.
The fact that she felt that she had to justify his lifestyle contrary to the color of his skin speaks to a horrifying notion that this country has deemed black men guilty before innocent.
This prejudice is illegal, it is sickening, and it is a long practiced piece of culture.
Slavery and Jim Crow abandoned the very idea of humanism and instead, replaced it with a beast that thrived on the over and misuse of people for economic gain.
But that is not solely about black people, our history was made on the backs and blood of Native Americans, and Latino/a Americans are perpetually treated in a socially violent and disregarded manner.
These are the origins of America, this is the problem.
The problem with police shootings besides racism is that they are not adequately trained to deescalate situations.
That, and a systemic bias make for very volatile situations.
Our prison system is corrupt and ensures that with ones sentence comes recidivism and a country that deems a perpetrator of even the smallest crime, unfit for society.
We teach our children right from wrong, and then we eradicate that ideal by producing immeasurable destruction to the lives of the marginalized.
Leon Bing describes in her book, Do or Die that just miles apart from each other, a quiet, suburban neighborhood with freshly paved roads and a school with a fenced in field sit above a dilapidated school in Compton, where the walls have holes and the ceiling is leaking and there aren’t even enough chairs for students to sit in for class.
This is a creation essentially encouraging kids to find salvation elsewhere, if the school system has failed them why should they oblige and attend it?
America needs to open their eyes and mouths and own up to it’s not so ignorant ignorance.
We know the system is unfair, we know populations are being ignored, and we know police brutality is just once piece of the violence.
But why do we still only talk about that one issue?
Black Lives Matter is an important organization, but it has not yet found a way to address racism in a manner that demands national political and social change.
If you make a movement solely about the experience of African Americans, you automatically exclude the rest of the population and in doing so; exclude your own ideals from the rest of the country.
This way of advocacy is entirely understandable, but it is not as effective as demanding that as a nation we change the foundation that separates us from each other.
The Civil Rights Movement fought for shared liberties like using the same restrooms, drinking fountains, and restaurants.
We are in a new age and are desperately in need of a new civil rights movement, but just like that last one, it must fight for a shared quality of life rather than separating itself from the rest of the population.
Instead of discussing how a white person you can show support, we should all be discussing what pieces of our government are allowing institutional racism to run our nation.
That is a discussion that everyone should be involved in regardless of ones skin color, because it affects Americans and taints this country’s identity.
Supporting each other comes from identifying problems and executing solutions.
We should all be able to recognize now that the experience of a black American is far different than that of a white American, but more importantly, we should be able to identify the qualities of the U.S. that make day to day life more violent, more hateful, and more oppressive.
We can’t breathe because the air is too thick with the blood of innocent people and the ignorance of a nation that turn a blind eye after a week or two.
In the play, Angels in America, Tony Kushner writes,“The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me”.
It isn’t just the police, it is our nation, and it is in the soil and the air and it reaffirms a history that consistently belittles its citizens.
If we are going to change anything it has to be about the foundation that causes our loss and our pain.
We are outraged, and that makes sense, but it isn’t good enough to be outraged, we have to be pragmatic if we are going to redefine our history and end this cycle.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Christopher Dombres/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)