Since the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (arrest her killers, by the way) Americans have been taking to the streets in cities across the U.S. every single day to protest the endless police violence against people of color. The message is clear that this needs to stop. Police brutality against Black people is a key cog of our country’s systemic racism, and we need to end it.
Unfortunately, the message isn’t getting through. On Sunday another abhorrent police shooting happened when police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back in front of his three young children, leaving Blake currently paralyzed from the waist down.
This violence prompted the Detroit Lions to act. On Tuesday the Lions cancelled their practice in order to speak out about the Jacob Blake shooting as well as police shootings of people of color altogether. They rallied around the slogans of “The world can’t go on” and “We won’t be silent.”
I’m just mad. I sat down today with a message that I really wanted to convey. I wanted to jump on my computer and write poetically about my feelings on what’s happening in the country, and the pride I feel about what the Detroit Lions did on Tuesday afternoon. I wanted to really say something, but all I could do was be mad. So I’m just going to let that spill out here.
America is fucked up right now. I’m not going to mince words. We live in a time where systemic racism is rampant and is quickly becoming more prominent due to the current political climate the country is in. As we continue to be desensitized to everything we see, it’s sadly becoming something that some are willing to be complicit about if they’re getting their way politically.
I can never understand what it’s like to be Black in this country or any country. All I can do is listen. What I hear from Black people is a constant feeling of being uncomfortable. What I hear is a feeling of always being watched, always being judged. I hear the feeling of never knowing if today is the day. If it’s the day you’ll be profiled at the grocery store, or it’s the day you walk into a public place and everyone in the room looks up at you. If it’s the day a coworker or a friend uses you for the color of your skin to make themselves feel something, or if this is the day you get pulled over for something small and a police officer who shouldn’t have this job goes too far.
Make no mistake, we as white people have so much to learn. Like so much. And even when we think we know it all, we in reality probably know less than 10 percent. Dave Chappelle once asked, “If we told them what being Black in America is, would they believe us?” He went on to say that we wouldn’t, and he’s right.
I think we spend too much time defending this country or looking at America through patriotic eyes instead of striving to fix it. So of course, when we see everything through those patriotic eyes, we’re less willing to admit everything is far from what we want America to be. So for years, we’ve shut that message out and dismissed it as politics or negativity that we didn’t want to hear. Of course, if someone told us what it’s really like for someone that isn’t us, who doesn’t look like us, and whose American experience is different from ours, we’d disagree and not listen.
I think that’s why America has spent far too much time sitting on the sideline as police systematically kill Black people at alarming rates. Since the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, there have been 1,318 Black Americans who have been killed by police that we know about. Yes, at a glance the stats may lead you to believe that white people are more likely to be killed since there have been 2,527 white Americans killed by police in that time. But you have to do the math here. Black people only represent 13 percent of the population in America. When taking into account overall population numbers, 32 Black people per million have been killed by police, compared to just 13 white people per million. To put simply, Black people are getting killed by police at over two times the rate of white people.
When the Lions say “The world can’t go on” and “We won’t be silent,” they’re absolutely right. How can we think about doing anything other than trying to solve this problem? We need to continue to amplify this message. I’m extremely proud of the Detroit Lions for standing up against this issue. It’s important that other NFL teams join them in this fight.
These influential athletes can then become the voice of the voiceless. They amplify this message that desperately needs amplifying.
Silence has the opposite effect. That’s why we as Detroit Lions fans need to not let our football team do all the talking. We need to unite with them in this fight just like we would on any given Sunday. I urge everyone to do whatever they can within their power to amplify the message and do whatever you can to help change happen. Even if it’s just signing a petition or retweeting the message.
We also need to listen to that message ourselves. We need to, as a country, realize that generally we don’t know shit and we have so much to learn. This is not a political issue. This is a human issue. It’s time we think of humans other than ourselves and demand equality. It’s time we have serious discussions about defending police and completely rethinking the way this country is policed, who we’re choosing to police us and how those doing the policing are trained. The world can’t go on like this any longer.