Most teachers, especially English and math, recognize the words ‘If…then’ as foundational in teaching the concepts of ‘cause and effect’ or ‘theoretical relationships.’ These are important concepts for anyone wishing to clearly understand consequences of our actions. As a former English teacher, I’ve used the example, “If you don’t study, then you’re likely to fail your test” more times than I can reasonably count.
A friend, who is among the last of the Vietnam era draftees, loves to tell the story of his Texas-bred, (red-necked) drill sergeant who, when accused through the chain-of-command of racism toward Black trainees, called his platoon into formation for a butt-chewing session. In stereotypical drill sergeant rant, he protested that in his treatment of trainees, “the only color trainee that I see is OD (olive-drab)-Green.” In his inimitable way, my friend raised his hand and asked, “If the only color you see is OD-Green, then why do the light OD-Green soldiers get all the breaks while the dark OD-Green soldiers catch all the hell?” Needless to say my friend’s drill sergeant was not pleased and took his displeasure out on my friend.
That story is somewhat symbolic of a major social issue plaguing the United States. To address it, we could ask, “if all lives matter, then why don’t police act like it? If the most egregious act of police brutality and excessive force primarily impact on Black citizens, then why is there such a negative reaction to the truth of Black Lives Matter as a statement of fact? If All Lives Matter, then when will African American citizens be able to expect and receive treatment commensurate with their actual demeanor and behavior? If All Lives Matter and matter equally, then when will we see true accountability in the training, management and treatment of those miscreants who wear the blue uniform and the badge?
Most recently, Terence Crutcher was killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the ‘capital’ crime of Vehicle Breaking-Down While Being Black. A ‘concerned citizen’ called into 911 to report that Crutcher’s vehicle was stopped in the middle of the road and that he looked like he was “smoking something.” Four police officers responded on the ground to the call with their guns drawn.
A police helicopter also flew to the scene and hovered in observation of the incident.
Per all available video, as symbolic of surrender, Crutcher held his hands above his head and walked slowly to his vehicle. His behavior was not erratic. He showed no aggression. His consequence? He was tasered by Officer Tyler Turnbough and shot to death by Officer Betty Shelby. The Tulsa Police Department immediately took the position that Crutcher was under the influence of a substance and that, with three other officers by her side, Shelby was in abject fear for her life. They added that Shelby was “an expert” at determining subjects under the influence.
Although he piloted the police helicopter, Officer Dave Shelby, husband of Betty Shelby was not the (unidentified) officer heard to call Crutcher a “bad dude.” That one phrase, however, is suggestive of a disturbing mindset in the Tulsa Police Department. It is also one of the bases upon which the BLM stands.
When they arrived on scene, did any of the police officers recognize Terence Crutcher as a stranded motorist or did they all jump to the conclusion that Crutcher was merely a violent Black animal that had to be controlled? That characterization may be harsh, but many have seen, whether in person or on YouTube, animals treated with greater concern and compassion than that which was demonstrated in Tulsa.
If All Lives Matter, then make it so. If it cannot/will not be made so, then our protest will continue until it is factual that Black Lives Matter!