When I say "Black lives matter," it is because this nation has a tendency to say otherwise. Racial discrimination does affect all minorities but police brutality, at such excessive rates, does not.
A black person is killed extrajudicially every 28 hrs, and Black men between ages 19 and 25 are the group most at risk to be gunned down by police. Based on data from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, young Blacks are 4.5 times more likely to be killed by police than any other age or racial group.
African-Americans have comprised 26 percent of police shootings though we only makeup 13 percent of the U.S. population, based on data spanning from 1999 to 2011.
In the 108 days since Mike Brown was killed by Darren Wilson and left on display in the middle of the street for four and a half hours, at least seven Black males have been shot and killed by law enforcement officers.
Officers are provided the unrestricted right to use force at their discretion -- and will not hesitate to do so -- and Black bodies are more susceptible to greeting the business end of those state-issued firearms.
Multiple factors such as clothing, location and individual behavior determine who gets stopped by the police and when, according to Jack Glaser, an associate professor at University of California-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.
"The way the process works ... is if you take two equivalent people -- a young white man and a young black man -- who are dressed identically, the black man would still have a greater chance of being stopped," Glaser said. "And it's because his race is a basis of suspicion and it interacts with those other qualities in a way that makes them all seem more suspicious because it biases the judgment of everything."
Granted, extrajudicial killings have dropped 70 percent in the last 40 to 50 years. Nearly 100 young black men were killed annually by police in the late 1960s, and these young men also comprised 25 percent of police killings between 1968 and 1974.
Shootings fell to 35 per year in the 2000s though the risk is still higher for Black Americans than it is for whites, Latinos and Asians. My people are killed at 2.8 times the rate of white non-Latinos and 4.3 times the rate of Asians.
I say all of this to say, though it has become less prevalent, police brutality has never affected another racial group like it affects us.
Race brings on individual issues for each minority group. Saying "all lives matter" causes erasure of the differing disparities each group faces. Saying "all lives matter" is nothing more than you centering and inserting yourself within a very emotional and personal situation without any empathy or respect. Saying "all lives matter" is unnecessary:
"#AllLivesMatter because I don't see race 💛💙💜💚❤️" Erasure is not progressive. This isn't something to be proud of.
— rosemary l'étrangère (@whoisroseama) November 25, 2014
Yes, #AllLivesMatter, but that is not what people need to hear. People know that #WhiteLivesMatter. People need to be reminded of the Other.
— Hector la Religión (@HolyCIVP) November 26, 2014
Non-black kids aren't being killed like black kids are. Of course I'd be just as pissed if cops were gunning down white kids. Duh, but they aren't. White assailants can litter movie theaters and bodies with bullets from automatic weapons and be apprehended alive but black kids can't jaywalk or have toy guns in open carry states?
There is seemingly no justice for Black life in America. An unarmed Black body can be gunned down without sufficient reasoning and left in the middle of the street on display for hours -- just like victims of lynching.
Strange fruit still hangs from our nations poplar trees. Lynching underwent a technological revolution. It evolved from nooses to guns and broken necks to bullet wounds.
Police brutality is a BLACK issue. This is not an ill afflicting all Americans, but that does not mean you cannot stand in solidarity with us. But standing with us does not mean telling us how we should feel about our community's marginalization. Standing with us means being with us in solidarity without being upset that this is for OUR PEOPLE -- and wanting recognition for yours in this very specific context.
Telling us that all lives matter is redundant. We know that already. But, just know, police violence and brutality disproportionately affects my people. Justice is not applied equally, laws are not applied equally and neither is our outrage.