This week’s discussion about unpacking #BlackLivesMatter and the Dallas shooting is collaboratively written by Ali Mailen Perrotto, Contract Liaison at PCAR, and Kayla Houser, Outreach Coordinator at PCAR.
Wow. This was another hard week… it’s been a week full of death, destruction, and difficult moments of reckoning for many in our nation. The shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers reverberate against the long list of unspeakable tragedies that have shaken us to our core.
It’s important that we say their names.
It helps us to remember that these shootings are not a statistic on a website or report. These are people - Black men, women, and children who had families who loved them, communities who miss them, and dreams that will never be realized.
Unpacking the Dallas Ambush
What’s more, the tragic ambush in Dallas that left 5 police officers dead and more wounded compounds our pain as a nation. Dallas Police Chief David Brown tried to put the reality of this tragedy and its context into words:
"We're hurting. Our profession is hurting. There are no words to describe the atrocity that happened in our city," he said. "All I know is that this must stop -- this divisiveness between our police and our citizens."
All of this death, all of this pain, is directly rooted in the traumatic effects of racism in our nation. To say that it is time to take a hard look at dismantling systemic and institutional racism in our country is not, nor has it ever been, a divisive statement. This is not a question of choosing between Black lives and Police lives. As Trevor Noah described in his poignant monologue:
“You shouldn’t have to choose between the police and the citizens that they are sworn to protect,” and, it’s possible to be, “pro-cop and pro-black.”
We owe it to every single person in our nation to make a commitment to ending racism. We need to understand that we have to discuss Black lives and the experiences of people of color. We have to say #BlackLivesMatter. These experiences are the symptoms of a broken system. To discount these lived experiences by saying “All Lives Matter” is akin to going to the doctor for an ailment, and not talking about your symptoms. We can’t fix it if we can’t focus on it.
#BlackLivesMatter is a Anti-Sexual Violence Issue
We, especially White people, need to spend some time focusing on the symptoms, so that we can understand how it affects the entire system. We will not end sexual violence until we end racism. What is happening in the world around us is our issue. Systemic racism in our criminal justice system is an anti-sexual violence issue.
Every day we fight to eliminate sexual violence. We advocate for a cultural shifts and communities where people live free from sexual violence. We recognize the socially constructed imbalance of power in our society that perpetuates violence. We seek to address the root causes of sexual violence—rigid gender roles, rape culture, victim blaming, entitlement, poverty, racism, homophobia, ableism, classism, and ageism. We are anti-sexual violence advocates, and to do this work well, we must also be social justice advocates. We realize the inherent connectedness to other forms of oppression and sexual violence—we cannot eliminate all forms of sexual violence until we dismantle all forms of oppression.