Black Lives Matter Doesn’t Mean White Lives Matter Any Less

Meet Jonathan Standard and Jonathan Earls. They are both fictional characters that make up real circumstances in America.

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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.

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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.

Changing How We Police Can Change Black Families

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There are a lot of people waking up this morning feeling stressed and somewhat disappointed. I am disappointed that we are still no closer to ending the rioting and disappointed that we are not seeing real movement for change within our government. We have to stop the assault on the black family.

Something has to be done about racism. Truth! It’s hard being a mother in America today. It’s even harder raising a child of color. I do not have any male children, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had to have the talk with my girls about race.

Cops are not trusted even by people like myself who worked hand in hand with the law. Truth! My daughter went for a walk nearly a year ago in our neighborhood which resulted in a cop following her in his patrol car. She ran into a nearby store and talked to the store clerk until he went away. After she got home we had the talk. It felt uncomfortable to explain to her how she had to pretty much open herself up to all kinds of interrogations just because she was a minority. I had to caution her about arm movements, facial expressions and the reasons behind it. We have wanted to adopt a son, but for the life of me, I cannot bring myself to do it. I am scared, I am scared that I would lose him to a violence I cannot prevent. If our daughters aren’t safe, imagine the safety of a son. I do not live in a bad area, but I live in an area that seems to be skeptical of people who look like me. I look at people like Sandra Bullock and others who have adopted black sons and I am grateful and also a little jealous, if I am being honest. They can give them the protection they need from not only the streets, but from cops protecting the streets. The prayer is that one day America will be safe enough for me to raise a black son, but until we get real laws passed to protect our sons, I will be waiting.

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All Cops are the same. False! There are some good police officers and some bad ones just like doctors, teachers, and any other profession. The problem is that in some professions it only takes a few bad apples to cast a shadow over the majority. It sounds crazy, but it is true. The department often models the example that is cast down from the leader.

Everything can be changed right this instant. False! While there are some things that can be written down today, it might take weeks if not longer to get those policy changes on the books. One big obstacle is tracing the results of problematic departments. While a lot of organizations already have things on the books to help stop the stress on certain groups, some are not following with those protocols.

Police are the main hindrance in black lives. True! In someways it all leads back to the criminal records. When we talk about institutional racism it can be seen across the board in communities of color. You have issues in the schools, social work and the police department. Take CPS for example, there is a problem with disproportionately for removals of minority children.

Criminal Records Cause Lifetime Issues That Reduce Productivity. True! One of the problems I saw often when it came to people who looked like me was marijuana on their criminal record and other offenses that should not prevent people from having a life. We all know that marijuana offenses are now being lessened because it is now legal in many states, but you will never know how many people it has stopped from getting jobs, getting family members out of CPS and other issues that come up with gaining housing. Housing plays an enormous role on how a family is able to navigate through life. If you hinder someone’s ability to get employment due to misdemeanors, it reduces their chances of getting safe housing in some areas.

When it comes to placing a child inside a family, criminal history is one of the main things that holds black people back. I would spend hours trying to see if I could keep children inside the family due to the stress of foster care, but in many of my African American families, the criminal record would always come back to stop them. We are not talking about violent offenses or anything major. We are talking about things that you would not see in white families, because they were given second chances while black people were thrown in jail. If we are learning anything today, we are learning how black people are often reported more in both realms of reporting. Not only do black people get the cops called on them more often, but they also have CPS called more than other races in some areas. Keep in mind, around 15 percent of child abuse cases are real. That means the other 85 percent are bogus allegations and guess who gets a lot of those? What people do not understand is that those bogus allegations can still show up to cause concern to some would be employers. While they might have resulted in rule outs, they are still problematic. They show up on central registry reports which are used in the medical field or any field working with children, elderly or at risk populations.

So, things have to change! One day I want to bring my son home and say you are safe now. Until then, we will inform, and educate people on where we are and what it takes to move forward.