There has been a running theme in the United States in 2016. It didn't begin this year. It just continues to magnify from previous years. The thought: if you aren't a part of the majority, you are less valued, or not valued at all.
Here's why this is such a big problem, now. People think and do things based, not just on their own thoughts and decisions, but also on the atmosphere, the context and accepted behaviors of others around them.
Based on this, we have a grave situation.
But this goes back to 1964, when Jim Crow laws were finally abolished. We needed to put it in context, have a national discussion to go along with the change in policy, so people, both black and white, could come to terms with what it all meant, and where it was going to lead.
Instead, racism took a different form... or the same form as Martin Luther King was assassinated, riots resulted, and everyone who wanted to buy into the "those people are different from us" argument could say, this is why we don't want THEM in our neighborhoods.
Since we didn't have that discussion on race then, and we still haven't had it yet, we are seeing more actions that suggest "Them v. Us" is an ongoing theme, and rules, justice system, fairness and equality be damned.
We're not talking about illegal immigrants here. These are bona fide citizens of this country.
Between the lack of gun control, the fear and lack of understanding about people that appear different, and those in positions of power, everything is reversed from how it should be.
The atmosphere matters. As long as cops who killed citizens never are charged with crimes, we cannot deal with the next case. The atmosphere matters.
How do you police the police? Even when there is video evidence of their breaches of protocol, they still receive no charges.
But the police actions are the fruit of a tree of hatred. It all comes back to punishing Black people by this generation, because, and this is the core of the issue, because white society previously treated them like property.
We have to have that conversation about Race in America. How can the United States hope to be fair to citizens in other countries, when we have not yet been fair with our very own?
Choose an adjective: heartbreaking, unnerving, disgusting... typical, expected, unsurprising. Maybe all of the above. What we know for sure is that until we talk about it, together and collectively, there will be another shooting. Another American killed, as if there is a war going on in the streets of our cities and towns, as if we believe there is a difference between people with different melanin content in their skin.
I know this conversation is going to be difficult. And my suggestion that racism is a kind of addiction seems to fit that. But if we can't protect each other within the borders of our own country, there is no hope of ever achieving world peace.
We are the standard bearers for doing what's right. It is time to stand up so that all of the people, more than 500 in 2016 so far, will not have died in vain.