Opinion by Christopher Fleming, former Little Brother and Big Brother with BBBS
In the past few weeks it seems the entire world has been “loud.” Many people have been protesting after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police while yelling, “I can’t breathe!” His hands were handcuffed behind his back. I have been wondering if being Black in this country is a crime itself.
My name is Christopher Fleming, I am a former Little, and more recently, a Big Brother who has grown up around the wonderful organization of Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have had mixed emotions over current events but I am also trying to understand. I believe there are two sides of the fence in this very complex situation. I have been pretty quiet up until now because I didn’t want to create any kind of controversy. I even thought of going out to participate in a protest but I weighed out the pros and cons and chose not to. I want our voices to be heard, but many people have been hurt or killed at these protests and I can’t help but wonder if I could become a victim in the streets if I went. And of course, I have my mother who said she would be worried if I went.
We have been protesting for years trying to use our voice but it seems that our voices haven’t been enough. We have repeatedly marched after instances of police shooting unarmed Black men. I felt that unifying with allies and the victims of police brutality would spark change. We protest peacefully nothing changes. We loot and riot and there are bystanders hurt and killed because of the rioting. I wonder how this benefits us when places essential to us are being looted and burned down.
We as a country need to be paying attention to police brutality and racial injustice. We have seen plain and clear what happens to victims who are physically assaulted, but what about the mental abuse those victims suffer? Remembering the Central Park five, those teenage boys were coerced into confessing a crime they didn’t commit. It goes deeper then how they are treated behind bars. We indeed have to start somewhere and my truth doesn’t define color.
With everything going on I’m not sure how to feel. I don’t want to make anyone upset. Do I say looting is wrong when it seems that is when people listen? How do we propose peace in way that hasn’t failed? Not every citizen can miss a day of work to try and demand change from their boss. Not everyone can miss a day of work because they need to pay rent. I understand we are dealing with racial tensions but messing with people’s livelihood shows that we can have hate in our heart.
We should all exhibit love for humanity, but it seems if we do use our first amendment rights nothing changes. If we are violent, people die, we have curfews, and things barely seem to change. I’ve always asked how I can defend myself in a tough situation. A person with a badge comes around and becomes aggressive and hostile, what can I do if I feel my life in danger? If I resist I get charged, if I fight I get charged, what can I do if my rights are violated and I fear for my life? With everything that has happened I feel like it relates to Newton’s 3rd law of physics “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
I’ve thought of different solutions on how to fix the issue of racial inequality in America. A small first step first is having more interracial matches within Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have thought of having discussions in cities everywhere to discuss racial issues and differences.
There is only one race and that’s the human race, I feel we should listen to each other’s demands and try to compromise if reasonable. Lastly, I feel that every job should incorporate some kind of psychology course on classical conditioning. The course’s purpose would be to destroy any hate in their heart and help realize why they learned it. These are honestly just a few of my opinions on what I believe will help. With this situation, I feel like a solution is subjective because we all have different approaches. Life is very complex and trying to fix something that has been going on for years seems very complex, but we indeed have to start somewhere.