When you’re in the business of reporting the news, you can never really take a vacation. The phone still rings, the emails still come in and Facebook posts continue to pop up. The only way to truly “unplug” during a vacation is to pack up and leave town. You have to turn off your phone and just head somewhere with no internet service that’s well out of range for cable TV providers. Which is exactly what I did.
All of last week my boys and I were at my mother’s house in Michigan, way out in the country, with not a single bar of cell phone reception to be found.
It was glorious — until I came home and all the news of recent happenings flooded my inbox, my voicemail and my news feed.
I didn’t know about the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas until I came into work on Monday and my writing partner D.C. Moody filled me in. I didn’t know that five police officers were murdered, I didn’t know about the protests around the country and I didn’t know that the already simmering pot of racial tension in this country had finally boiled over.
I didn’t know any of this. But I should have.
The truth is that we should have all seen this coming. A long way off.
To deny that there is a serious problem with race relations in America is foolish. Ignorant. Dangerous.
We should know better, but we never do.
In America, we pride ourselves on being the great melting pot. All races, religions, colors and creeds welcome: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Now it reads “No vacancy.”
We have gone from a country of refuge and tolerance to a land of suspicion, mistrust and greed fueled equally by hatred, ignorance and fear.
Black lives do matter. White lives matter. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist lives matter. Life matters — of course it does, but squabbling over what adjective you put in front of the “lives matter” does nothing to address the facts:
Less than half — 42 percent — of African American students will graduate college compared to their Caucasian counterparts who are graduating at 62 percent. The incarceration rate of black males is over six times higher than that of white males. The median income for a white family in 2011 was $55,412 while the median income for a black family (the same year) was $32,229 — over $23,000 less.
Now, none of this was the fault of the cops that were shot in Dallas.
But at this point, we — as a nation — are way past the point of sending “hopes and prayers” to fix everything. We need real solutions with practical applications or the problem is only going to grow. Equality and justice are two very different things: If two kids are trying to climb over a wall and you give them each the same size block to stand on — that would be equal.
The problem is it doesn’t work if one kid is six inches shorter than the other. He needs a bigger block — that’s justice.
I’m not going to delve further into my opinion on the Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter movements except to say this: If “Black Lives Matter” bothers you because it doesn’t say “All Lives Matter” BUT “Blue Lives Matter” doesn’t evoke the same response — then for you, the operative word is “black.”
Food for thought.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress and The Pickens Sentinel and can be reached at [email protected] Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.