6 Things I Wish Non-Black People Would Stop Saying

by Kinsey Clarke

The past few months have been especially hard with the murders of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, and the non-indictment of their murderers. As people around the nation and the world protest, our movement in knowing that #BlackLivesMatter and protesting police brutality grows stronger and more resolute every day. Often our conversations with others in person or on social media lead to heated debates about what should or should not be done in the wake of these events. However, here are a few of the things that should never be said in these interactions. Ever.

“Mike Brown didn’t deserve to die, but…”

But what? Mike Brown didn’t deserve to die, point blank period. Anything said after the “but” is an attempt to rationalize why a young man with his arms in the hands-up position was killed and why his killer was given a legal pardon from the law. Quite literally anything you say after “but” is professing that Mike Brown was somehow responsible for his own death when there are witness testimonies that prove otherwise.

“Well, how come nobody is talking about black-on-black crime?”

The argument about “black-on-black” crime is null and void. Just like any other color of people who live in close proximity to each other – because the United States is very much a segregated country – black people will kill other black people. Whites will kill other whites, and so on and so forth. In uttering this phrase, you are erasing the implications of police brutality and how it relates to systemic racism and inequality. You are also deflecting it onto a civilian killing another person, in which that person will be caught and sent to jail almost immediately.

“But they were resisting arrest!”

We have access to one video and multiple personal accounts proving that these men and young boys were not resisting arrest. But to humor the readers who will say that they were, let’s examine this, a video of a white man waving a gun at civilians and police forces in a park this past summer. This man not only retrieved a gun from his car, but he raised it as if to shoot anyone around him. The officers issued a non-lethal shot and the video concludes with the man leaving for the hospital. In Tamir Rice and John Crawford’s cases, none of these protocols were followed. Not only was Tamir carrying a toy gun in an open-carry state, but he was shot upon immediate arrival of the cop and denied CPR. For John Crawford, also in the same state as Tamir Rice, and also with a toy gun, he was also denied the same treatment the white man received

“We should respect the grand jury’s decision.”

Why should we? So we can seem more respectable when the time comes again to mourn and hope dearly that black lives deserve justice? The criminal justice system continues to work against the livelihood of black people. Why would we trust or respect a system that is designed to fail us?

“Well, I’m not picking a side.”

If you choose to stay “neutral” on the issue of the systematic violence committed against black bodies, you are choosing the side of the oppressor. It’s that simple.

“Well if black people would just VOTE, then this wouldn’t be an issue!”

I’m very fond of how well my “I Voted!” sticker deflects bullets. But in reality, the people who say this are ignoring the facts: Who will we vote for? The Republicans who openly admit their racist opinions on black life, or the Democrats who stay silent on the issue and only come to speak out when they’re trying to gather votes? Voting for either party hasn’t gotten us the progress we need, and it seems like us being on the jury doesn’t help either when there’s a white majority.

So how do we respond? Most detractors are deeply entrenched in their beliefs, and pretty much anything you say will be brushed off and they’ll continue with the logic that best suits them. In any of these cases, it’s best to drop the knowledge that you have and leave it at that, instead of feeding the trolls.

We know black lives matter and we will continue to fight until everyone else recognizes this too.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Kinsey Clarke is a senior at Michigan State University. She enjoys aerial silks and solo trapeze in her spare time. You can follow her personal Twitter account here.

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