In the late summer of 2016, an African American man and his girlfriend, with her four-year old daughter, were riding in a 1997 white Oldsmobile through the neighborhood of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. It was there that they were pulled over at a traffic stop. After running errands, the man, Philando Castile, had previously picked up his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, from her apartment. The couple was stopped by two officers, by the names of Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser, of which worked for the St. Anthony Police Department. At the time, another St. Anthony police officer had radioed in that the Oldsmobile could possibly be holding fugitives from a recent robbery, and that he had planned to pull it over. But, Officers Yanez and Kauser pulled them over instead. The stop took place on Larpenteur Avenue at about 9:05pm. At some point in the next two minutes to come, Officer Yanez fatally shot Castile. The events immediately following the incident were recorded, while streaming live, on to Facebook. It was later reported that Yanez had asked for license and registration, and while Castile was reaching for his wallet, he also had a pistol on him and a license to carry a gun. After being told to put his hands up due to the officer seeing the pistol, Castile was then shot in the arm multiple times. He died twenty minutes later at The Hennepin County Medical Center.
A lot of attention recently has been targeted toward the actions of the American police force and the actions of some of their officers. The Washington Post reports that “40 percent of the unarmed people shot by police in 2015 were black men, even though black men make up only 6 percent of the population.” They have also reported that a black person is twice as likely to be shot by a police officer than a white person. These statistics and some other incriminating videos of police arrests and shootings, such as the shooting of Philando Castile, have been enough to convince a majority of African-Americans that they must be alarmed by the people who are supposed to serve and protect. It is to my belief that not every police officer has the intention to racially profile citizens, but at the same time I do think that there are a lot of police officers who do. In recent years, local governments and the federal government have opened investigations into the conduct of police departments nationwide, so I think that they are trying to stifle the statistics of fatal shootings. But under the new presidential administration it is very possible that the progress itself might stifle. President Trump was quoted saying, “I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.” As an African-American, I take offense to this because he refers to the African-American community similar to an object instead of as a cumulative race and culture.
As a result of the recent events, many people have come together to form the campaign known as #BlackLivesMatter. The campaign describes itself as “a call to action and a response to the violent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.” Also, they are a “unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.” Members of the campaign are spread nationwide. The campaign organizes protests and rallies at which they stand behind the latest victim of “anti-Black racism” and their families. I have very mixed feelings on the connotations that accompany the name #BlackLivesMatter. On one aspect, I feel that the some people underestimate the importance of Black culture in America and that without African-Americans, America would not be what is right now. But on the other hand, I believe that all lives should be treated as equals because if the American people continuously fight back and forth with each other for their race, the only thing that will be left is chaos.
Political commentator Heather MacDonald shows that she does not feel similarly. Mac Donald has previously stated that more white people have been killed by police officers than black people. But this is proportionally incorrect due to the percentage of police shootings to the population statistics. She also states that Blacks are more likely to kill cops than to be killed by cops. In an interview with CBS’ “Face The Nation”, Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, states his view on the situation:
“If you want to deal with this on the black side, you’ve got to teach your children that the real danger is not the police; the real danger to them 99 out of 100 times, are other black kids who are going to kill them. That’s the way they’re gonna die.”
In my perspective, Giuliani conveys a somewhat discriminatory tone and that he places the blame of the recent events mostly “on the black side”. His reasoning is false and is very harsh with his notation, but his blatant rudeness towards the black community incites doubts of injustice in him and the other Americans that support him.
The great nation of America right now is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock being the new presidential administration and the people who agreed with his alternative views on race while the hard place being the more liberal minority-filled side of America who may not always take the full story into account when discussing race. But overall my point is that right now, there is very much a stigma or bias against African-Americans. I believe that if America were to work together, not as multiple races but as one united nation they could get things done and they could work to learn about each other as individuals and not stereotypes or cliches.