As a former police officer, I recall that each day I went to work my family expected me to return home after my duty shift. I have a lot of friends and colleagues who are police officers and are serving their communities with the highest distinction and honor. Their families expect for them to return home after their duty shift, too.
The family members of the Dallas police officers and the Dallas transit police officers had the same expectations. Tragically, seven officers were injured and five officers lost their lives at the hand of a single assailant. I mourn for their loss and their families, too.
At the same time, we must acknowledge video evidence of unarmed African-American men and women being killed by police without accountability. Ask yourself whether a broken tail light, or selling CDs or loose cigarettes outside of a convenience mart, or playing in a park with a toy gun, or being a teenager playing loud music, or trying to walk home or change lanes while driving, would result in you losing your life.
Sadly, all of these events had three indisputable commonalities: All were unarmed, all were black and all were killed within minutes or seconds of police contact. Video evidence doesn’t lie. I grieve for these families, too.
Some are too quick to dispel the truth by blaming the victim or a social movement by stoking the flames of hatred and fear.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy said: “When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront other not as fellow citizens but as enemies. We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled nor enriched by hatred or revenge.”
Years after Sen. Kennedy’s remarks, America still has a serious problem. We must hold each other accountable for our own actions regardless of our station in society. We can no longer live in the darkness of denial that color does not matter. We owe our children better — teach them tolerance and acceptance. We owe our friends and neighbors better — regardless of their ethnicity or religion. We owe ourselves better — truth and self-accountability.
I remember the three golden rules: 1. Always do what is right. 2. Do the best you can. 3. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
America is already great, but “We the People” can make her better. — James Manning