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Black and White, We Are In This Together

Ilyassha Shivers’ column in last week’s Wave was outstanding because it underscores how there are no simple answers to the issues of race, gun violence, proper policing and lack of opportunity. The only simple truism is that ultimately we, as Americans, are all in this together, whether we like it or not. 

I have no problem with the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” A disproportionate number of black people die in police altercations and in inner city violence. It’s human nature for people to turn away from problems that don’t directly impact them. Raising everyone’s awareness of these tragedies and demanding change –through words and through civil disobedience– is a noble American deed. 

Unfortunately, when an idea becomes a movement, the purity of the idea is often lost to the pursuit of power and/or to people with more ignoble motives. Too often, racists have grabbed the media spotlight leading to further division. If you make everything about race and your own pre-conceived notions about people who look different than you then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. 

Fortunately, there are positive examples to follow. Dallas Police Chief David Brown implored protesters to be part of solution by becoming police officers and patrolling their own neighborhoods. Applications have tripled. This week a lawyer who was arrested for wearing a Black Lives Matter pin in the courtroom explained that she needed to express her opinion about the killings of blacks by police officers but that she understands police have a tough job filled with nuance. “I’m not anti-police,” she said. “I hold them in the highest regard, and I do believe all lives matter.” And in Wichita, Black Lives Matter protesters accepted an invitation from Kansas police to attend a cookout and have an open discussion. Tough questions were asked and answered. 

These are great examples of how we can work together instead of throwing gasoline on the fire. As Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”