If we listened to our fellow Americans, we would hear them expressing these points of view:
• “My son is a human being. His life matters.” The heartbroken father tried to protest the violent treatment of his son, knowing that to the world his son was just another Black man suspected of wrongdoing, which resulted in his being shot in the back at close range seven times. He realized from so many similar incidents that his Black son had had no chance once he was suspected of wrongdoing. Perhaps his son knew it, too.
• “Support the police. Their work is dangerous, they deal with this dangerous element constantly and they need our support. What do you mean, ‘Black lives matter?’ Are you saying that the policeman’s life does not matter? What about the cops, do their lives matter? You say that Black lives matter, so you must think that the rest of us don’t matter. You evidently want stores to be looted and set on fire. You must be OK with violence in the streets and rampant crime.”
• “Let’s show our support for the police. They have a hard job and they are in danger all of the time. There are protests and rioting in the cities and we are scared. Let’s have a demonstration in our town to show that we support our law officers. Bring protection. People who do not support the police, and people who want the Blacks to destroy our country, will likely attack us. Yes, bring your guns, you might need them for your protection. The police will not be able to protect you.”
• “We want our Black sons to be treated the same as your white sons. Our sons matter to us. Why is it upsetting to you that we want humane treatment for our sons? Even when they commit a minor offense? Even when you suspect they may have committed a minor offense? Or any offense? Shouldn’t our Black boys have their day in court just as your sons have theirs?”
• “Why are you frightened when we say ‘Black lives matter?’ How are we supposed to get your attention to understand what is happening to our Black sons? Too many are being killed by our urban law enforcement officers. Do their lives not matter to you? Do you care?”
Why do young Black men believe that life is hopeless, that it is useless to try to do well? Why are so many people afraid of their fellow Americans? If we would listen to each other, we would know.