A disproportionate number of black people are killed by police in this country. The murders of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks were captured on video in a way that makes it impossible to not see this problem. When you look at the long list of unarmed black people killed by the police you might start to think that those lives don’t matter very much.
I hear you say, “All lives matter.” True. My life matters and your life matters and, oh yes, black lives matter, too. Now, can we stop playing semantic games long enough to actually address the problem?
One partial solution might be to stop sending armed police out to address mental health and social problems. We could take the responsibility and the funding for such out of the police department and put it into trained social workers. But you say, “What would we do without the police?” Since that is not the suggestion, you are arguing against... what? You have no solutions to recommend so you want to play word games?
When we look at the broader issue of systemic racism, we encounter more semantics. I hear folks say “I’ve never benefited from white privilege”, as though that’s proof that racism isn’t systemic. Aside: It is a privilege to have never had to worry that your black son might be killed by a policeman over a broken taillight. But arguing words doesn’t solve anything. Let’s address the problem: The net worth of the average black household is 10% that of whites. A black newborn is twice as likely to die in infancy, and those born in poor Southern states have a shorter life expectancy than children born in Bangladesh (see The Week, June 19, 2020).
So now you argue about Confederate monuments. You say the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. Yes: a state’s right to have slavery. But regardless, those are words, not solutions. You must know that those Confederate generals were enemy combatants fighting against the United States of America. If the south had won, we would not be a citizens of the USA today. Can you even imagine what it must be like for a black person to see us revere and honor people who fought to keep them in bondage?
Racism is a real problem. Let’s stop playing word games and actually address it.
Tobey Miller, Fort Payne, Alabama
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