I do not fear much in my life. This statement is not a testament to my macho tough-guy persona. In fact, my entire being is quite the opposite of tough. But I am a 33 years old, 6', 215 pound, middle class, white, suburban male. There are not many reasons to have fear when you are a member of the most privileged group of people in the history of the world.
Yet last night, I could not sleep. I was uneasy. I was uncomfortable. I was scared.
The videos are chilling. A man selling CD's outside of a convenience store bull rushed by an officer, restrained on the ground, and shot point-blank in the chest. A man sitting in his car, pulled over for a busted tail light, following the officer's instructions, and then shot at close range as he reaches for his identification with his girlfriend and daughter in the vehicle.
I own a pair of heavy feet and that extra weight on the pedals has instigated more encounters with police officers than I should probably admit. As the blue and red lights flash behind me and I pull onto the shoulder of the road, the question "Will I survive this interaction?" never crosses my mind. But I'm not black.
Something is wrong with our system when events like these continue to occur. If you are reading this in a search for answers, I am sorry as I have none. I am not in law enforcement. I am not of African descent. I cannot directly relate to either side. But as an observer and (most importantly) a human being, I know that what I see is wrong and something needs to change. At the core, our empathy for people unlike ourselves must improve. That includes me. Different, yet the same. We must remember this.
Please do not interpret my words as an attack against police. As with most groups, the actions of a few stain the reputations of the majority. Members of my family and friends made along my journey have chosen this arduous profession and they deserve our utmost respect. Every day on the job may be their last and this should be commended. While those countless police officers merit our admiration, we must hold accountable those who violate basic humanitarian principles.
Stay safe, friends.