Only a few weeks ago, we were all horrified by the atrocious murders that an Arabic American did at a gay night club; in the past week, we’ve watched heart-wrenching videos unveil more tragedies involving White Americans with racial prejudices and fearfully led trigger-fingers; and last night, we watched live feeds tallying more deaths caused by a Black American retaliating against police officers whom he deemed racist like the rest. What’s the common enemy here? It’s not the color of skin; that changed with each event. A greater enemy to our humanity lies beneath each of these evil, human acts like a murky, poisoned well feeding the hatred and dividing our nation. That enemy is prejudice.
As I scoured the videos, read reports and watched social-media burst in tearful and hateful flames in the last few days, I found one underlying truth that cannot be denied by any justice system or opinionated expert: Prejudices are alive and real today as they’ve ever been.
Prejudice is a really convoluted issue because it often involves one or more factual instances that have been adopted as a norm for an entire group of people. White police officers have murdered innocent black men. That’s a fact. Black men have murdered innocent, white, police officers. That too is a fact. But you know what statements or ways of thinking are not factual? Those that say ALL white police officers are out to get black men, or that ALL black men are a danger to white police officers. (People of other minority groups, please know that you’re struggles are not being forgotten; I just want to focus on the current, boiling issue).
Unfortunately, fighting and overcoming these prejudices is not an easy battle, and it would seem that it’s a battle we need to start fighting in other ways. Angry, generalized words and pictures posted on Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, even on a blog like this do not appear to be creating any lasting or far-reaching changes to our society, in fact, they may be making things worse. Our flurry of frustrations announced with each new atrocity has really only led to one notable change: depressing news feeds.
Now, that said, I’m not one to limit anyone’s freedom of speech. I am in no way saying that I think people should stop sharing emotions on their news feeds, but maybe we should let those raw emotions cook a little before blasting them across the Internet. And in some cases, we may need to wait a little longer before reactionary posting to make sure that we have all the facts straight. Trust me, I have my own stockpile of rant blog and social-media posts that were just itching to be released, but at the last minute, I decided to click the “X” instead of the “Post” button.
Another important thing to clarify in this is that I understand that I will never be able to fully understand or be able to completely empathize with people from minority races, and I don’t want to pretend that I could ever grasp what you feel or what you’ve had to deal with because of the evil of prejudice. Specifically, to the Black-American community, I never want to negate the fact that many of you were raised carrying the burden of hundreds of years of absolutely disgusting, inhumane treatment, and that you have probably at times dealt with the remains of that bitter poison that still lingers in some places and people. I recognize that as a white individual, even though I 100 percent disagree and abhor the evils that have been done over the past centuries and today, it’s often best that I just bite my lip when I see a meme or statement that makes me feel generalized as just another hateful, ignorant, white person. I understand that is an immeasurably small burden to carry by comparison.
But, with that said, is it possible that we could find other ways to express frustration and battle the evil of prejudice? As far as I can tell, many attempts to speak out for justice in these situations involve an “us vs. them” mentality and voice from both sides, which seems to perpetuate the issue rather than combat it. Maybe if we could find a way to speak truth in love like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we would see the changes that we need and desire.