How Did We Get Here? #TerenceCrutcher

How did we get here?

On Friday, from multiple angles, we watched a man- a black man, a father of four, a husband, a brother, a son, a musician, a student, a friend, Terence Crutcher, “Crutch” – bleed out in the middle of the road in North Tulsa.

This just a couple of months after watching Alton Sterling bleed out in a parking lot in Baton Rogue. And watching Philando Castile bleed out in the driver’s seat of his car.

The world lost another man this week too soon. Anytime that happens, it’s a tragedy. When it’s at the hands of the state, at the hands of a police officer – one sworn to protect and serve – it is all the more so.

And yet, a large portion of our country can’t find in them the most human and reasonable reaction to the death of someone’s father – grief, compassion, tears, empathy. Instead, they view the video of his death and their first reaction is to search – desperately, fearfully, guiltily – for a justification. For a reason why Terence Crutcher must have deserved to die at the hands of Officer Betty Shelby on that lonely Tulsa road Friday night.

Instead of reacting like actual human beings, they react like numb, disconnected shadows.

How did we get here?

We pride ourselves on our virtues in America: on our compassion, our loyalty, our commitment to justice, our kindness. It’s our enduring American myth. And yet, our public reactions to things like the death of our fellow citizens is anything but compassionate or kind or just. It’s always cold and cruel and dismissive and bloodthirsty.

“He must have been asking for it.”

“He was a thug.”

“He should have complied.”

“He shouldn’t have been wearing a hoodie.”

“He was a big, bad dude.”

“He got what he deserved.”

Terence Crutcher died Friday. He had his hands up. His car had been secured by the officer. He was moving slowly and deliberately. There were four officers there. He was not presenting an active threat. And yet, he died. He died physically. And white America is going to make sure he dies again and again in the coming weeks, so that we have to never face up to the guilt of having constructed a racist system that only works by disposing of black bodies as carelessly as we dispose of old paper towels.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. If Philando Castile – beloved Phil, sitting in his car, following all the orders, as innocent of any wrong doing as a person can be – if he can’t get even get a fair public hearing in this country, then folks like Terence and Keith and Alton and all the others don’t stand any chance in hell.

We don’t have a live feed to Terence’s brain to see what exactly was going through his mind at that moment, so consequently, he can never prove his innocence to so many in our country. So he’s guilty. Cut and dry. He was guilty the day he was born a black boy, and he has been guilty every day since, he was guilty on Friday, and now, he will be guilty for all posterity. That’s American justice at work.

The American myth has been preserved for another bloody day.

How did we get here?

How do we get out?

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I Don’t Think You Really Believe That All Lives Matter

You keep saying ALL LIVES MATTER.

B5EXq2jIgAAny_JEvery time we talk about the black lives ending every single day at the hands of a racist system by saying “Black Lives Matter”, you stand up and yell back that no, ALL LIVES MATTER.

But here’s the thing. I don’t think you really believe that ALL LIVES MATTER.

Because, if you did believe it, then you would act like ALL lives really do matter. You see, you can’t really pick which lives fall under “all” if you are going to say “all.”

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be against common sense gun control. You wouldn’t just talk about all the gun deaths in Chicago when others bring up police violence.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be trying to split up families and send people back to drug wars and human trafficking in Central America.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be against refugees from war-torn Syria trying to save their lives by coming to the west.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be so eager to go to war in the Middle East and kill the wives and children of suspected terrorists.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t oppose the idea of ensuring affordable, accessible health care to all people, regardless of ability to pay. You would understand that health care shouldn’t be a purchased commodity, but a human right.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be trying to take away food and housing from needy families here in America who are supported by our meager social safety net.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t demonize an entire religion because of the actions of a radical few.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t be wildly cheering a political candidate who shows complete and utter disdain for the human rights of women and Muslims and people of color and poor people and immigrants and refugees and and basically anyone who isn’t him.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t fight tooth and nail against the right of people to love whom they choose, be who they choose, and express themselves how they choose. You wouldn’t label an entire group of people dangerous or pedophiles because they want to use the bathroom in peace.

If you cared about all lives, you wouldn’t disparage a movement to raise awareness of black lives. You wouldn’t feel the need to have a knee-jerk reaction of demonization and marginalization towards black human beings who want to stop being killed for being black. You wouldn’t label them all “thugs” and “deadbeats” and “welfare queens.”BlackLivesMatter-AllLivesMatter

But, because you do all those things, I really just don’t think you believe ALL LIVES MATTER. Why don’t you just be honest and say what you really mean:

WHITE, STRAIGHT, CHRISTIAN LIVES MATTER.

All others negotiable.

Let’s Go: Responding to #Dallas; A Guest Post by Arianna DaMetz

The weight of the world is on the shoulders of those who work for peace with justice today- thoughts of how, why, who, when…when will the violence end and the Kingdom come? There’s been a recurring image in my nightmares so far tonight: an ear of the guard who comes to claim Jesus is cut off by Peter who is outraged, hurt, and confused, understandably- rightfully- so. He bears the weight of centuries of oppression! The Messiah was to come on a stallion with a sword to lead the Israelites to victory! Yet here he is, vulnerable, taken into the hands of law enforcement, the innocent to be slain, and Jesus whispers “No, no, no,” to violence, healing the ear of the symbol of his Oppressor.

It always seems to happen this way. The Oppressors tell the Oppressed how to deal with their oppression (non- violently, non- disruptively, they say. Use the bureaucratic grievance systems we imposed on you, they say). Then when it doesn’t work and the Oppressed hit a breaking point the Oppressor suddenly sees systemic, root causes of their violence, when before the violence enacted by the Oppressor himself could be narrowed and explained away as “a few bad apples.”

Is violence justifiable, understandable, logical even, after the trauma our brothers and sisters face each day and have faced since we built this country on their backs and continue to do so today? Hell yes, it is.

Is violence the way of Jesus?

Can love be displayed with a bullet? The people at the #blacklivesmatter protest in #dallas and #NYC and countless other places didn’t seem to think so. The people working day in and out to dismantle our racist systems don’t seem to think so.

WHITE PEOPLE: don’t think we can absolve ourselves of centuries of sin because a handful of renegade people acted out in unspeakable violence. Don’t instantly see broad, sweeping societal issues that have bred violence when we have raped and pillaged and murdered and created this environment ourselves.

Those seeking vengeance for the murder, imprisonment, enslavement of your people at the hands of my people for so long: I get it. I can’t tell you what to do with your anger, I can only tell you that I want to come alongside you to heal this world, and I can’t believe that violence will ever beget anything but violence. Help me see what you see. Tell me I’m not doing enough. Tell me I’m part of the problem. Tell me I didn’t post about all the black men who have been murdered leading up to this because I was scared. You’re right. But becoming like Them will only rot us.

To you who spilled the innocent blood of people who were protecting a peaceful protest, you disgust me. You are a coward who chose easy targets, now martyrs. You have added fuel to the fire of those who propogate #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, followed by people who cannot understand privilege and power. You are preaching a false gospel of hate and violence and you have done nothing but give the racists who have necessitated #blacklivesmatter a twisted justification for their continued oppression.

To you agents of peace and steadfast justice: you inspire me. You’re tearing down the walls of this city that were built to marginalize and exclude. Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are you who protest, who disrupt, who call us out on our bullshit, who disobey. The Oppressor will tell you you’re inciting violence (though their rhetoric could never cause mass shootings, could it?) He’s wrong and he knows it. He will tell you not to get angry, but anger is not always opposite of peace. He’s scared of you, as he should be.Too few people are angry because too few refuse to see. What will we do with this holy, hot energy we are stewarding? Tell me what you want to do, I’m listening. Tell me how to do it. You’re driving.

Friends, I don’t have the answer, I’m just heartbroken.

I think you know what’s next.

Let’s go.