If you think that African Americans and Whites have the same experiences when encountering the police, you are wrong. Wake up!
If you find yourself calling African American youth thugs, while saying that Whites that destroy property are just being kids, you are wrong and your language is racially biased.
If you don't understand why African Americans are angry, you need to widen your friend circle, read, and educate yourself. You should also be angry when seeing African Americans treated unjustly.
If you don't understand why African Americans are rising up and protesting for equity and fair treatment, you need to push yourself to see the world from perspectives other than your own. How would you feel if someone had their elbow on your neck all day and all night?
If you don't understand why African American parents fear for the lives of their children at the hands of the police, imagine if you had to worry about your children every time they left the house. Imagine if you had to worry that the people that are supposed to be protecting your children might hurt or kill your children.
If you believe what you see on our racially-biased news programs (which feature uninformed commentators) without looking to other sources for information and talking to people involved, you're failing yourself and others.
If you watch Baltimore or Ferguson burning and blame African Americans, you are wrong. You should first consider the systemic issues and systemic racism that fostered the anger in those rising up.
If you find yourself not able to relate to those protesting for their lives, dignity, and rights, expand your friend circle, push yourself to learn, challenge yourself -- these are all of our children, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We should all care.
If you are sitting in front of the TV -- merely watching -- and doing nothing to make the country a more just nation for all of its citizen, you are wrong. Nothing changes unless we all take responsibility and care enough to do something in our communities -- even when it makes us uncomfortable and interrupts our daily lives.
If you think that the events in Ferguson, New York, or Baltimore will merely pass on by, you are wrong. Social media has become our march and our boycott and those who truly care will not quit and will show the rest of the world the injustice that is both systemic and individual and is rotting our nation at its core.
If you are proud of the United States and think it is the best country in the world with the most freedom, you aren't looking and watching. You are merely thinking about your own experiences through the lens that you use to view the world. Until all of our citizens have justice and are free to be who they want to be rather than conform to mainstream societal norms, we are demonstrating a shameful example to others.
If you don't see the inequities in education, health care, the justice (?) system and every other system in the nation, you are blind. Open your eyes. Care about someone and something other than yourself and your own needs.
If say you are religious, spiritual, Christian or any other religion and you find yourself quoting scripture to demonstrate your faith, please take a closer look at the passages about poverty and justice. It is impossible to walk in the footsteps and grace of any God and not care about the injustices against African Americans in our nation.
If you find yourself dismissing the extreme injustice you see on TV because someone African-American dismisses it as well, you are wrong. Note: This type of justification is equal to saying 'I'm not racist, I have Black friends.' There are African Americans that have internalized hatred for their own communities just as their are those that internalize hatred in all communities.
These thoughts are based on a conversation I had tonight with my 16 year old, justice-oriented daughter. If you are not having these conversations with your children, you aren't doing your part to stop the injustice toward African Americans in the United States. It is up to all of us to make sure that the next generation is better than us and to ensure a just society that respects and promotes the dignity of all its people.
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