Conditional Advocation

Makala L’na McGinnis, IUP

About 2 months ago, I sat and watched as social media went into uproar to the events involving Sandra Bland. I’m sure there is no need for me to go in detail about Ms. Bland and the injustice surrounding her death. As the story unfolded, Black America was outraged that our justice system had not only unfairly arrested a woman, but allegedly killed her while in police custody. I can still remember the tweets and blogs now. “I CANT BELIEVE IT!”, “NOT AGAIN!”, “WE HAVE TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE!”. The rage went on and on and on and for hours and days I watched African Americans be…. Hypocritical.

I watched them call the kettle black; I watched them be conditional advocates. For this rage, this fury and this avocation against violence and injustice only showed apparent when it was that of a white man doing the killing. It only showed apparent when it was that of the 10 out of millions of stories that actually made it to the media, it only showed apparent under certain conditions.

I must admit it burned my tongue to call my own people hypocrites, but you see, being brutally honest was a lot better than being conditionally out raged. How can one stand for no violence only when a white person kills a black person? How can one be enraged when the justice system is of no justice, yet they themselves have burning eyes and ears for the murders the very people they tolerate commit every day?

Of all the people I argued back and forth with for this conditional avocation, I can strongly recall one particular debate. She was my friend, and we’d had many intellectual conversations before. When I called African Americans hypocrites and said that they are conditional advocates, she replied, “The difference between blacks killing blacks is that they aren’t police! They aren’t the ones with badges! They aren’t the ones who were hired to serve and protect!” It was at that moment that I realized: of the many intellectual conversations between me and her, this particular one, she was completely ignorant and blinded to. How can you justify – or worse, injustify – murder by whether the person is an authority figure? Whether a police officer or not, murder is wrong.

I went on to explain that of the hundreds of killings we as African Americans hear about and witness, why do we only show rage to ones that have to do with whites killing blacks? How can you say one particular race is in the wrong for murder more than another? I am sure there are plenty of Black officers who have wrongfully killed citizens. In fact, the video shown of Sandra Bland in police custody being restrained by officers showed an African American officer as well as several white ones. If for non-violence, it should be advocated 100%. It should put us in rage every single time, whether it’s a police officer, a white man, or even a Black man.  

What sense does it make be selectively upset? Where is this rage when a young 20 year old black male kills another 20 year old black male? Where’s the outrage when a black man robs an elderly woman and kills her? Where is the outrage when an African American mother loses all 3 of her sons to gun violence? Like love, care, and justice, advocacy should never be conditional.