Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why #blacklivesmatter Is About Making ALL LIVES SAFER

It seems like every day there is some new tragedy on the news. Today's tragedy hit close to home. A cop in Overland Park, just a 30 minute drive from where I live in Lawrence, Kansas, posted a veiled threat on a 5 year old black girl in Dallas on her mother's facebook page ( This makes me physically nauseous as I'm sure it would make anyone feel psychological pain, whether or not they are a parent. But when I look at my 5 month old Black and multiracial daughter, it is all I can do not to let fear overtake my thinking. This is the very definition of terrorism.

I want to pause for a moment and say that I recognize that being a police officer is the most dangerous job in America (after being a sex worker), but I am also aware that being a Black man in America is far more dangerous. If you don't believe me, then I don't know how much more evidence you need. But this recent tragedy has got me thinking about two things, first, what is actually the bigger tragedy, that another Black man, Philando Castile #sayhisname, was executed publicly, or that his 4 year old daughter had witness his murder? The second thing it's got me thinking about, is just how far reaching this whole #blacklivesmatter Movement really is.

You see, my daughter's mother is White. But today, when she looked at me after reading about this little girl in Dallas, she had the fear in her eyes that I have lived with since I could conceive that I was Black. She realized in that moment, that someone might want to take our little girl away because of the color of her and my skin, and presumably because she was a "race traitor." And I could see all of that fear begin to overtake her, that fear that Black people struggle with every. single. second. of. every. single. day. And I knew that I had to do something. Speaking out like this, this is doing something. But I also had to intervene in that moment. I held her close and I told her, no, this doesn't mean that we can find haven in some other country, because White Supremacy is everywhere. And no, this doesn't mean that we should never go to another vigil, because there is no safety in silence. And no this doesn't mean that we should live in constant fear. Because that is not living.

I learned a long time ago, as all Black people do, that our lives are fragile, as are all marginalized lives in America. It only takes one bullet, one racist, homophobe, sexist, out of the many. But I also learned that this why every moment should be precious, why I hold my daughter tight when she laughs and I'm dying inside, why I want to have a nice dinner when the Klan waits outside my door. I've also learned that the fear is transformable into courage.

I used to work in East Oakland, where guns are a dime a dozen, pimps and crackheads crowd the streets, and the cops are the scariest gang in the hood. I worked with elementary school children, and it was there that I learned that I have to be the one who stands in front of them, does not let them be harmed by those streets. Was I afraid? Yeah. But that fear was my shield against those streets, and I knew that fear would push me to lay down my life for those children.

That's what #blacklivesmatter means to me. Not that my life matters more because I'm a Black man. But that because I'm a Black man who has to convince myself every single day that police murdering me with absolution doesn't mean that I am not worthy of life, then I know that every life matters. And if you can't bring yourself to say it, right now, that Black Lives Matter, no matter what color you are, then what you don't get is this. If my life gets snuffed out, it's not me who suffers, it's you, it's my daughter's, it's my White partner's and all of her White family. We are not separate.

Tragedy is going to happen tomorrow, that's why we love today. If not, the terrorists win.


Tai Amri

No comments: