By Liza Ahmed

image2 (3)It is commonplace now to see the arguments between the Black Lives Matter proponents and opponents. Every time an unarmed black man gets shot, everyone seems to pick up their script for the ensuing fight. There is an issue that is deeper than just believing that “All Lives Matter”.

As a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can concede that sometimes, albeit rarely, a police officer resorting to the use of lethal force as a last option is appropriate. I do not agree with the frequency and extremely biased use of such force, the disregard for the victim, or the absurd level of protection an officer receives when they are found to have been in the wrong. However, the other side cannot bring themselves to find such fault in police officers.

It is reprehensible that police officers are not held accountable on any level, regardless of the situation. It is unacceptable to excuse their behavior as a result of them acting out of fear for their lives. It is downright disgusting to suggest that a person’s death is their own fault when they are not compliant enough, or that their history somehow makes killing them appropriate. If you cannot concede that your fight is imperfect, you are relinquishing your responsibility to foster healthy, meaningful change. In the rare times when a person is so obviously not at fault, the naysayers remain silent because they still cannot assign blame.

In the case of Charles Kinsey, the Miami caretaker who was shot while lying down with his hands up, I heard no condemnation of the police officer by the All Lives Matter supporters. Was he not entirely compliant in the exact way that everyone argues people should be? Does his life not matter? How can anyone justify the police killing a 12-year old, within two seconds of arriving on the scene, for playing with a toy gun in an open-carry state . The “All Lives Matter” argument purports to be inclusive of everyone. However, it seems to be used as a way to project a hierarchy of value on a person’s life, and at the top of this hierarchy are police officers.

Once we begin to peel back the layers of this dysfunction, it becomes clear that we have lost our sense of brotherhood and community. It is a disorder to listen to a large group in our own society professing an injustice, a deep hurt, and to blatantly tell them that they are fabricating this narrative; or perhaps worse, that they deserve their own treatment. I do not profess to have the solution to combat this disconnect. I do, however, believe that we can demonstrate our commitment to one another by working fervently and tirelessly to regain empathy and to fully embrace our role as our brother’s keeper. In frequent moments where I lose direction, or fall into the well of despair, I rely on the teachers in our society for perspective. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, states:

I no longer believe we can “win” justice simply by filing lawsuits, flexing our political muscles or boosting voter turnout. Yes, we must absolutely do that work, but none of it – not even working for some form of political revolution – will ever be enough on its own. Without a moral or spiritual awakening, we will remain forever trapped in political games fueled by fear, greed and the hunger for power.

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