Kenneth L. Hardin: Black, blue lives can both matter
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2022
I don’t consider myself as anyone of importance. I haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, found a cure for a terminal illness, or created a vaccine to stop a pandemic. But, back on July 8, 2016, I was introduced to a global audience and recognized by a bunch of idiots from around the world via social media. I didn’t seek out this immense amount of watchfulness, nor appreciate the notoriety.
I’m not a reactionary type. I usually take a cerebral approach and try to understand the root cause of situations. Grape flavored Kool-Aid doesn’t flow through my veins either and I’ve never backed away from a confrontation. But after the barrage of comments from angry folks around the world for several days, I gave up trying to reason and understand, and deleted my account.
Let me explain. In Dallas, Texas, on the day previous to my public coming out ceremony, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired bullets into a group of police officers, killing five. I simply wrote that I wasn’t surprised this occurred. My reasoning was the atmosphere at that time was overly ripe for retaliatory actions from misguided Blacks in response to the numerous murders of unarmed Black men by police officers and the lack of resulting justice. I didn’t condone his actions and refrained from showing any emotional inflection in my words. It was simply an intellectual observation. I underestimated the idiocy some of the warped souls in the less melanin producing collective. Within three days, my words went viral, and I received some of the most hate filled, vitriolic and threatening messages from so- called God loving Christian folk from across this Country and other parts of the world. After I reached nearly 900 poorly constructed and grammatically incorrect sentences telling me how they would end my existence, questioning my patriotism and love for this Country and asking why I hated law enforcement, I threw my hands up and said no más.
People engage me often in conversations about race and law enforcement and whether Black lives matter. Some I’ve enjoyed, others not so much. Opinions typically fall along the lines of the uniform we were issued on our born day. As I’ve listened to both sides, I’m usually left thinking that instead of everyone trying to prove or disprove whether racism exists in the issue; why not try to understand why it impacts each other so differently? If we continue to stand firmly and separately entrenched in beliefs born from singular experiences and show an unwillingness to view social issues through nothing more than our own lenses; we’ll never experience collective racial unity.
When we replace constructive dialogue with intra-racial crime statistics, assert who has more blood on their hands, or fail to acknowledge our own complicity; this takes time away from developing strategies and viable solutions about how we prevent this from continuing or reoccurring. I don’t personally know or interact with anyone whose first instinctual response is violence.
I acknowledge there are some people who wear my born day uniform color acting outside the boundaries of the law and should be held accountable. All I and people who look like me seek is to be afforded the same benefit and courtesy that’s being sought for all of law enforcement — recognize the diversity that exists within our culture. Stop minimizing the significance and dismissing the relevance of incidents such as the epidemic of unarmed Blacks being assaulted and killed by police officers and telling people who are directly impacted that Blue Lives Matter too, get over it and move on.
Since 2014, we’ve had eleven reported cases of Ebola with no one who contracted it in the U.S, dying from it. Yet, this Country nearly lost its mind in its panicked response. We rapidly changed airline policy and health laws because this deadly disease impacted everyone equally unlike police inspired brutality and murders. Why is it such an imposition to give even half the level of concern to this murderous epidemic? Speaking up and out on these deadly injustices doesn’t denote hatred for law enforcement or makes one anti-police.
The criticism reflects that the Black community simply wants quality police protection and increased visibility before these incidents occur, which results in stronger, respectful, and more positive relationships. That doesn’t sound like hate speech to me. The familiar defensive response is Blacks are quick to complain about police officers but are the first to call when something goes wrong. OK, and? Yes, we should get the same high-quality protection just as anyone else who needs law enforcement services. Is protection only extended to those who refuse to hold police officers accountable?
Every culture and group should be judged by the best they have to offer, not by the worst. I extend this to law enforcement as well.
Kenny Hardin is a former City Councilman and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.