Meet Jonathan Standard and Jonathan Earls. They are both fictional characters that make up real circumstances in America.
This is Jonathan Standard and his father. They live in a little town off the coast of somewhere in America. His father is a teacher who loves to take his son to the beach on his days off. As Jonathan grows up he continues to enjoy the beach, hiking, and hanging out with his friends.
One day Jonathan’s friend Chris decides to bring a bag of weed with them on a trip to the mall. Jonathan immediately tells his friend to get rid of it because his dad doesn’t play around. Chris tosses a bag out of the window and then a unfamiliar sounds erupts from the back.
The lights are mesmerizing and a promise of what’s to come. As the officer walks up to the car, the five boys nervously await the officer’s demands. He instructs the driver to roll down the window and then starts to ask about his license and registration. He shines a light on the other boys and ask about the bag he saw tossed out of the window. Chris fesses up to tossing the bag and the officer walks back to his car. Soon another cop car shows up from behind.
This time both officers direct all the occupants out of the car and directs them to put their hands up so they can see them. The last boy to exit the car is Jonathan Earls. He along with the other teens are placed on the sidewalk and read their rights for possession of a controlled substance because in this state if you are with someone who has drugs in the same vehicle, you are assumed guilty by association.
As the boys are split up and placed into two different cars Jonathan Standard starts to cry. He is fearful of what his father will think about his arrest. Before long they arrive at the station and the boys are booked and then given a phone call. Jonathan Standard’s father picks up right away and hires an attorney who gets Jonathan Standard out the very next morning.
A couple of weeks later the kids are standing before the judge. He gives Chris a Misdemeanor B with a 1500 dollar penalty. He gives Jonathan Standard and two other children probation and community service. Finally Jonathan Earls comes before the judge. Jonathan Earls looks over at his friends and nervously smiles. The judge frowns at the sight of his smile and reads the following sentence out loud, 1 year in jail with a 4000 dollar fine. Jonathan Earls looks around the courtroom in confusion. All of the boys are getting ready to attend college in two months.
Two months come and go! Jonathan is released from his sentence a few months earlier. He’s trying to apply for school once again, but this time he has to check the box about prior criminal activity. Due to his misdemeanor he now finds out he can no longer go into the medical field which was a dream of his, so he seeks help at his local workforce. His workforce finds him a job with a local fishery that pays 9 bucks an hour.
Now when we talk about Black Lives Matter, we do not always have to talk about death. It can be the tale of the two Jonathans. This might not be a real case, but it is the type of situation that happens all the time. Black people and white people often commit the similar index crimes at some point, but black people are almost always given tougher sentences. We are talking about offenses that are not violent in nature, yet for the black people involved we see harsher sentences.
When I see the words Black Lives Matter, I think about the children who grow up playing together and experience life together. I think about the children who start out equal, yet are soon separated by the waywardness of the law. Why couldn’t Jonathan Earls get the same sentence as his friends? It’s because his life didn’t matter to that judge because he was black. Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean anyone is saying White Lives Do Not Matter. We are simply saying we should be given the same amount of grace and dignity because our lives matter too.