I have grown up around cops and still believe that black lives matter.

by Olivia Joy

This is going to be one of my shorter posts, one I write in one sitting, on one train of thought, and I’m intentionally choosing not to post it as a status on social media because I want to encourage whoever is reading this to choose their posture very carefully. I want you to pause for a second, and just read, just hear me out on this. You’re probably like: “but you’re white. but your dad is a cop…what the hell could you have to say that is worth me reading that isn’t going to royally piss me off?” But hey, I’ve thought about this a lot. I mean A LOT.

My father is a police officer. And has served in the realm of law enforcement for about as long as I’ve been on this earth. Thus, most of his friends are also police officers. And for the last five or so years, as there has been a massive increase of attention paid to “police brutality,” (and I put that in quotations not in reference to sarcastic tone, but because that is what the masses like to call it), I for a long time, felt inclined to immediately go on defense mode. I mean, from my perspective, I looked at it as, I’ve grown up around cops my entire life and have spent time in the station, and have not once heard the cops surrounding me refer to those black or brown lives as anything less than the white lives that are some their own, because let us remind ourselves, that no, not all officers are white men. It was hard for me to see countless, who I believed to be ignorant people, shaming people who I spent my childhood looking up to, and grew up getting to know as truly stand-up human beings who put their lives on the line each day that they wake up to go to work.

It took me a while.

It took me a while to have this realization that I have no authority to be having this inner battle with myself, trying to decide whose life was worth being taken, because the answer is always going to be no body’s. It shouldn’t be “Oh, should it have been the black boy or the cop?” No one should ever make that call. Last time I checked, no one life is more worthy than the next. See, I was never one of those “All lives Matter” people because here’s what I have to say to that: Duh. We all know that. I had it explained really well to me once. They said something to the effect of, “When we say black and brown lives matter, we aren’t saying that those lives are more important than the rest, that’s not what it’s about. What it’s about is recognizing that there’s hundreds and hundreds of black and brown lives being taken every year purely because they are black. Purely because they are brown. That’s all, it’s kind of a no-brainer that all lives matter, it’s just this is the ‘here.’ This is the ‘now.’ We need to respond.”

It makes sense, right?

So, here’s the deal. When I hear a life is taken, ANY life, it destroys my heart. When I hear a life of a young, innocent black boy is taken, in a case of injustice, I want to shout at the rooftops because it reminds me just how much work is still to be done in this world. And just how much people need to be educated about the injustices of our marginalized communities. When I hear about a cop taking someone’s life, I have to question whether or not there was prior action that dignified that action, because the police exist for a reason, they have a job to do, and they have just as much of a right to safety as you or I. When I hear about an officer committing murder for an unjust cause, I can hardly come up with words to express the depths of my rage. Why? You know why. Because that was a life taken, and when that life is a black life, a brown life, a queer life, a life that is often silenced, yet again, they are left with no voice and left to mourn yet another day.

I will actively stand with our law enforcement and will not condone the generalized hate that the masses communicate toward those who give the ultimate sacrifice each day; however, with that being said, I believe that there is a problem. A HUGE problem that exists within our culture, within our society, one that goes far beyond our police, that is embedded within our institutions and our community’s structure, that contributes to the general hate toward these groups.

Yes, my father is a police officer. And yes, I am confident when I state that I recognize the injustices that exist in this country, knowing that change must persist. And yes, I believe that education is all of our most powerful weapons in this uphill battle, because when I call myself a fighter for social justice, it’s not about siding with the victim or the accusor…it’s about taking the side of what’s right. It’s as simple as that.