Those of you who are in the US most likely know what I’m talking about today. Those of you outside the US have most likely picked up tidbits, given the amount of non-US news crews covering everything (and finding themselves assaulted for it), so I don’t need to rehash the events surrounding the death of George Floyd or the subsequent protests and then riots sweeping across the US here. If you somehow haven’t gathered much on what happened (another cop killing someone on camera in cold blood with no repercussions) … well that parenthetical is likely all you need to decipher, along with a decent imagination of “Well, how would people react to that?”
Now, I’m not going to go into a lot of depth on this today. Be aware that that depth does exist. If you wish to find records of police brutality, videos of Australian news crews being clubbed with batons, or old men beat up by police until they’re lying bleeding on the pavement for the “crime” of trying to get to their home or waiting for a bus.
So what am I going to say on this? A few things.
First, the murder of George Floyd was wrong. As is any of the racial profiling that still sticks with a lot of people in the US. I think I’ve made it pretty clear over the course of seven books that I think judging someone based on the color of their skin is an utterly asinine practice that no one should engage in. Positive or negative (yes, it’s just as bad to assume someone is “good” because of a skin color as it is to assume something bad about them).
People. Are. People. We’re all human beings on this little rock we call Earth. Blue, green, purple, whatever. Judging someone based on the color of their skin is wrong.
You want to make a judgement on someone, do it by something that matters, like the content of their character.
Of course, to do that, you have to get to know them. Which means being open to interaction with individuals or even cultures that may have different views than you. But unlike many today seem to think, you can learn about others cultures, ideas, beliefs, and the like while still being civil, friendly, and congenial. You can interact with them as well and still have the same.
You can also openly discuss differences of opinion without resorting to insults, derogatory speech, and even agree to disagree while still being congenial. It requires mutual respect from both sides in any discussion, but it can be done.
So yes, Black Lives Matter. Or to use the full quote, Black Lives Matter As Well. The point of the statement isn’t that the lives of those of other skin tones don’t matter, but that there’s a lot of evidence that those of one particular skin tone still get the short end of the stick from people or institutions, and they would like to be treated like everyone else. And they should be. That people aren’t, just because of the color of their skin, is horrid.
Racism in any form has always struck me as incredibly stupid. It’s a base form of tribalism. Hence why in my works and books I’ve always enjoyed putting forward scenarios and settings where racial divides around skin tone are given only as negatives, and where characters of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicity are shown working together with no regard for whose skin is what color (or when something like that does come up, it’s made very clear it’s not a good thing).
Judging someone based on the color of their skin is stupid.
Now for part two of this little post. I want to talk a little bit about the protests, riots, and authoritarianism with police response.
First, the protests. These are good, and quite frankly (and a little sadly), needed. I hope they keep going until things change. There have been protests every day where I live for a good week now, along with speeches, positive response from local leaders, and renewed interest in change (such as police reform bills at state level being pushed).
Riots, though … Looting? Burning down buildings? The only one I agree deserved it was the police precinct for the cops that killed George Floyd. It was empty at the time, but it sent a very clear message, and those cops brought that retribution down with their disregard for the law (as did the city it was in for harboring and sheltering said cops rather than upholding the law).
But I will not condone the burning of buildings that had nothing to do with this, the smashing of businesses, etc. I understand some of the mentalities behind it, but ultimately it’s rage unchained that both exhausts itself on the wrong targets (save that police precinct) and in a manner that encourages more violent retribution.
And as we’re seeing, police retribution is something many police in the US are itching to let loose. The last few days have seen news crews arrested and beaten, church leaders tear-gassed, elderly attacked and shoved to the ground, now in critical condition for the crime that appears to be walking to their house too close to officers (WARNING: BLOOD AND VIOLENCE AT THAT LINK) or in another case waiting for a bus, shot with paintball guns for being on their own porch … The list goes on.
It’s sickening. The scenes coming across folks youtube channels, shot with phones, or captured by news crews live is that of armored police squads beating people simply because they can, and want to.
To put it another way, I’ve written dystopian fiction. Colony is a great example. But it’s an example how a system like that is awful and everyone tries to get out from under it. Of why we shouldn’t strive for it.
At the same time, it’s also an example of what sort of power-hungry people who like controlling others by force and fear rise to the top in that sort of scenario. And looking at footage of armored police officers beating news crews with clubs simply because they can … well …
Police reform is needed. Badly. All this violence is going to do if our leaders in the US don’t step in is encourage fear … and then retaliation with greater violence. There are so many examples in this last week of the law being openly flouted by officers of the law, of constitutional rights being trampled under heavy, armored boots in this last week by officers that face no repercussion or “can’t be identified” that it’s clear we need to rethink our approach to policing. Stricter admission standards. Better psych evals. Body-cams on every cop (seriously: not hard at all to do).
Colony is supposed to be a cautionary picture of the future. I do not want it to be a destination.
We need to stop judging people by the color of their skin, and stop excusing behavior against others just because “they’re different.” And pretty much all extensions of that.
It starts with each of us.
Now, I’ve got one more thing to say on this. Or rather, share. As some of you know, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Earlier this week, the prophet of this church released a statement regarding the riots, protesting, and issues going on. And I’m going to end by sharing some of it with you. If you’re not religious, well … no harm done. But we could all use an uplifting message right now, I think. Maybe you’ll like it anway. So here it is:
During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God’s children!
Let us be clear. We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto Him—“black and white, bond and free, male and female,” (2 Nephi 26:33). It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.
Any nation can only be as great as its people. That requires citizens to cultivate a moral compass that helps them distinguish between right and wrong.
Illegal acts such as looting, defacing, or destroying public or private property cannot be tolerated. Never has one wrong been corrected by a second wrong. Evil has never been resolved by more evil.
We need to foster our faith in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
We need to foster a fundamental respect for the human dignity of every human soul, regardless of their color, creed, or cause.
And we need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation.
Pretty well said, I think.
Stay safe out there this weekend, people. Let’s work for a better tomorrow.
An Addendum: If you are a cop, or know cops, know that this post was not written to attack you, though if you felt targeted, I apologize. Unless you’re out there beating up old men with clubs, in which case no apology. If you’re a good cop, then I’m glad you’re a good cop upholding the law and working your best to see that it applies equally to everyone, and not just some. Police reform is something you’ll come out of all right, and you don’t need to worry about it. You might even want it because you’ve seen the other side of things.
Enforcement of laws keeps a nation stable. We need that, and for that we need a strong police force.
But they must be morally strong as well as in other aspects. And currently, it appears many places are failing in that regard.