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All lives matter, but black lives need more support

Black Lives Matter, a movement founded in 2013, has sparked a lot of backlash in recent years. On one side we have black and African American communities standing up and voicing, “hey, maybe we don’t shoot black people without good reason” and on the other, we have white communities saying back, “well, all lives matter, not just yours.”

It’s all a bit jumbled and the media doesn’t do much to help clear the air between the two forces. The news gives us stories on police shootings and Black Lives Matter protests, only showing us the bad parts of both sides. There are cops who show great integrity and respect for the communities they serve and there are black people who break the law, just as there are corrupt cops and innocent black people.

However, non-white communities are plagued by inflated rates of police shootings and incarceration when compared to their white neighbors. Black Americans are “2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers,” according to a 2015 poll analysis by The Washington Post. Blacks account for only 13 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 24 percent of the fatal police shootings in 2015.

“Well, there are more black criminals than there are white ones,” you could argue. But would that be statistically correct? True, there are higher rates of incarceration for the black population than for whites, but couldn’t this also point towards a racially-skewed system? You don’t have to dig deep to find cases of young black men receiving harsher punishments and longer sentences for crimes than white men in the same neighborhood.

There’s also the problem of opportunity. White neighborhoods are notoriously better-off than black neighborhoods. Firstly with the wage gap, which has black men earning 73 cents to a white man’s dollar and black women earning even less, at just 60 cents. Then we have education: 23 percent of blacks have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 36 percent of whites. These two tie into one another: if black people earn less, how are they supposed to pay for college? And if black people can’t pay for college, how are they supposed to find better paying jobs?

Equal opportunity and equal treatment would erase the cycle of earnings and education. With equal wages, black families could work less, fund better schools for their neighborhoods, buy better houses, drive safer and more environmentally-friendly cars, pay for healthcare, see their high school graduates through to college and even retire comfortably when old age hits. Break this cycle once and watch the next generation surge upward thanks to their parents’ hard work.

Black people aren’t lazy or stupid. They aren’t unanimously violent either, which should raise the question: why is our law enforcement all too eager to assume they are? Police see non-whites as such because of the circumstances that shape black communities and stereotypes that shape the social perception of black people — youth especially. Racism runs deeply ingrained throughout America’s history and it is our job to fairly fight it at every turn.

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