All Life Matters

Rejecting the Inhumanity of Officer Chauvin and Sergeant Pepper Spray

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Photo Credit: Wikepedia/Public Domain

Black Lives Matter! Lately, I’ve been saying this all day, every day, with millions, maybe even billions, joining a protest movement that has gone global. Yes! Black Lives Matter!

I’ve always felt a bit ridiculous saying this, because I’ve never thought that black lives didn’t matter.

I’ve always wanted to say: why is this even a conversation? What psychopath does not believe that black lives matter? (Well, Derek Chauvin, for one, probably half if the nation’s police forces for two.) But I do not care what they think. Black lives matter. Of course, they do. I am black, and I matter. No one will ever convince me otherwise, regardless of what they happen to believe. My husband is black, my sons are black, my father is black, my mother is black, all of my siblings are black. All of my aunts and uncles are black. All of my cousins are black. Everyone in my husband’s family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins) are black. My Family, we are all black (or what America has classified as black, but that is a whole other can of worms, but just follow me on this. ) All these beautiful, extraordinary wonderful human beings that I known and experienced over the course of my life, are black, we all matter.

Our lives matter! It is f*cking ridiculous that I have to, that any of us have to, beg American police forces and a huge percentage of white America to acknowledge that our lives matter.

And yet, many of them won’t acknowledge this ever. Even worse, many of them act like I’m tripping, if I get angry over the fact that they want my life not to matter, so theirs can matter more.

Amber, your insistence that black life matters is making me uncomfortable right now.

Oh trust…I’ve known plenty of white people who have expressed this sentiment to me over the years, in a variety of subtle ways. It doesn’t even shock or disgust me the way that it once did, when I was younger and filled with far more fire. Being older (and wiser) I understand the discomfort white American’s feel when entering conversations on American race relations. And I have written all about the why of that in my article Real Conversations about Race with White People. Check it out to understand why most white Americans are so uncomfortable talking about race. But this isn’t about them or that.

It is about being human.

What does it mean to be human? To be human is to understand that life matters. All Life Matters. It is very important to me to say, all life matters. Because it does. I am not saying this in that sick, dysfunctional way, Derek Chauvin/Blue Lives Matter/Sergeant Pepper Spray way. I am not saying this disingenuously, to drown out and deflect from the idea, that that black lives matter as so many white Americans do. But those people? I have compassion for them, because if you can’t say black lives matter, you have a troubled soul,

All life Matters.

When I say All Life Matters, I am standing in a very real spiritual truth. These global protests, ignited by inhumane tortuous murder of George Floyd requires that every beating human heart, scream: Black Lives Matter! And this is actually happening. And what we are seeing, across the globe is a celebration of the idea that all life matters. Just observe the vastness of the movement, it’s the breadth, its depth, its sheer diversity of participating humanity. What humanity is saying the whole world over, is this:

All Life Matters.

We are waking up! All life matters! The plants, the trees, the mammals and ocean life too. It al matters. The sleepy human race is waking up to the fact that if one of us doesn’t matter, then none of us matter. And we are solidly rejected the idea that black life does not matter.

When people say All Lives Matter, unfortunately, what they are trying to do is turn the phrase Black Lives Matter, into Black Lives Don’t Matter.

Here is a hard bit of truth. There are many white Americans who want black lives not to matter. They want everyone to be okay with cops murdering black people. If you’re not American, it’s easy to judge us as a culture filled with ugly psychopathic monsters. Umair Haque does so at least once a week, in a full-on rant against, how anti-life our country is.

He’s not wrong. Anti-life agendas are everywhere; and not just in America. But over here, they are pervasive and insidious, because for the most part we pretend that it’s not true. America has sins and a dark past, steeped in the very anti-life agenda of White Supremacy, the undercurrent of which is this:

All life does not matter. Some lives are worth more than others. And some lives are worthless, we will take them and wear them around our necks like they are trophies. We will lynch this life. We will terrorize this life. We will burn their communities down to the ground and hold large rallies where we did this. We will only respect white lives, although, especially white male lives, like mine. White male life is the only life that truly matters. If you say black live matter, we get very angry, because we like possessing, controlling, demeaning, and harming black lives. This is our right.

This is the core of white supremacy. In America we have lived with this for centuries, while pretending not to. This is crazy making. This is something we are refusing to do any longer. As a result, we are seeing the dying concept of white supremacy kick and rage and viciously attack! This is manifesting physically in 3D , in the form of American police resisting the idea that black lives matter. They have a largely Republican political force behind them, that is frantic, right about now, in its attempts to maintain conceptual white supremacy.

They are shutting down voting facilities all over the country. They are packing the judiciary with former Nazis. (Not literally, I don’ think, but maybe.) They are dog whistling loudly and encouraging the all Derek Chauvins in police forces everywhere, to kneel violently and take no prisoners! Shoot, kick, fight, stomp, kneel! KILL. White supremacy is at the center of Derek Chauvin’s belief that he could kneel on another human being’s neck for an extraordinarily long length of murder death kill time. That he, in fact, would be rewarded, for this anti-life and inhumane behavior. At a minimum, he would not be punished.

This time is different though. Why has the tide turned? The answer won’t be found in logic.

The answer is spiritual.

We want to be human. We want to feel human, and we want to respect our divinity. This we want to do as an entire human collective. But if we’re going to be the least bit effective we have to be honest about our systems. They are inhumane. They do not serve us. We want this to change, and we are starting with law enforcement. Police reform NOW!

Law enforcement has a culture, that is steeped in white supremacy, and all sorts of diabolical and disturbing anti-life activity. Usually, in America we never admit this. The reasons are complex. But suffice it to say that Americans lie to themselves about so much that is sick in our culture. We have to, how else would we retain our sanity? Instead of believing that we live in a country where a psycho, power hungry cop could kill anyone of us on a sadistic whim, we have instead been indoctrinated into a culture of mild cop worship. They are our heroes. They protect and serve or so (we’ve been told a thousand times). We have had this cliché reinforced in pop culture, we dare not question it.

It is true. But protect what? Serve who?

Cops are here to protect property , to that end cops serve property owners. The bright and shiny façade of cop culture, that American media has created and programmed into the minds of most Americans, is so very far from the reality American law enforcement. Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop, very accurately portray what it really is.

The bastard cop explains why cops are trained to kill, indiscriminately, without remorse or empathy or any regard for humanity. They are even provided with (a silly simple narrative) that make this easier for them. He quotes the killologist (not making that term up, read the article):

One of the most important thought leaders in law enforcement is Col. Dave Grossman, a “killologist” who wrote an essay called “Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs”. Cops are the sheepdogs, bad guys are the wolves, and the citizens are the sheep (!). Col. Grossman makes sure to mention that to a stupid sheep, sheepdogs look more like wolves than sheep, and that’s why they dislike you.

I actually had heard about the sheeps, the wolves and the sheep dogs before. A former student of mine (a marine, who presented as somewhat of a psychopath) told me this story with pride. I instinctively got the chills as he told me this story to explain to me why there were the people that he had to kill. Let me say that again, that this marine told me that he had to kill people.

And…not just in a war, not just when his life was threatened, just generally, in daily life, the moment anyone challenged him, he had to kill them. It was almost as if, he had to kill in order to feel anything at all. Most times his eyes were vacant. Just dead. He seemed to me to be dead inside. But not when he spoke of killing. He was a strong believer in killing, anyone who seemingly opposed him, in any way. He clearly didn’t believe black lives (or any lives) mattered. He had no problem expressing these points emphatically.

How do people become this? Why don’t we ever question the forces that create them? They hold their beliefs so strongly, and I’d like to add righteously.

We are seeing this attitude manifest in our police all over this county, when we insist that black lives DO matter. And although some of us are shocked by what we are seeing from police nationwide in the form of excessive brutality, we shouldn’t be. If we are, it’s only because have we not fully been paying attention to our collective indoctrination into a lack of humanity.

The collective inhumanity is disturbingly rampant in many parts of our world and collective human culture and experience. There are large factions of humans who truly believe that life does not matter. There are people who believe that the minute they believe they are threatened in any way, be it physically, or even and especially) psychologically, they have the right to kill.

We are all reckoning with the fact, that in America, this is who police have been designed to be. Theirs is a profession forged in the deep, dark pits of the American institution of diabolical inhumanity — slavery. And that culture and that institution gave the police this thought virus:

All life does not matter; and especially not black lives. Black lives are property.

But it doesn’t end there. Modern-day white supremacy has expanded, far and wide, and now it attacks damn near everyone. (This is what thought viruses do — they spread.) And the modern-day white supremacy thought virus is something along the lines of this:

Black live do not matter. Neither do brown lives, or yellow lives, or red lives, or native lives. Nothing not white matters. Female lives are especially tricky. female lives we want to possess and control for sex, and reproduction. We really hate the LGBTQIA lives, especially the trans lives, because we can’t commodify and control them. These are the disrupters of our entire paradigm! They cause us so much discomfort. Those lives do not matter! And the discomfort they cause in us, makes us act out against them with a violence and viciousness that is extraordinarily cruel and inhumane, but we must do it, because we are so afraid of that which we don’t understand.

Police are deeply embedded in a them v. us, thought system. The them v. us thought virus is ancient. It is so old and primitive; I won’t even use the full langue to describe it. Basically, that thought virus runs like this:

Us — Good. Them-Evil. Us Kill Them.

This is the primitive original thought virus underlying all of these rampant anti-life thought viruses that have plagued humanity, through the ages. It caused the Holy Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the holocaust, World War I, World War II and all the other countless, albeit lesser known genocides the world over.

White supremacy is a relative modern, and supremely American version of an anti-life belief system that has resulted in many murderous torturous deaths of black and brown people in the Americas.

This has to stop. We have to be human. This is what we are doing. We are demanding to be human.

When we are protesting the heinous and horrific death of George Floyd, we are protesting, all anti-life belief systems. All anti-life systems start the same. They start with a Us v. Them denial of the other’s humanity.

That was what was so disturbing, about Derek Chauvin’s actions. The sheer lack of humanity, proudly on display for the world to see. It was disgusting. It was downright revolting. It made human souls everywhere scream in pain.

Derek Chauvin was not being human. He committed a serious crime against humanity when he proudly denied George Floyd’s his.

There is a such a high price to be paid for denying someone their humanity. As soon as you do that, you deny your own. Something tells me Chauvin had been denying his own humanity, for quite some time. It placed him exactly where he is, right now; and I’m pretty sure it is a fairly uncomfortable space.

Let me ask you this? Does anyone know what happens to the cops, or even the soldiers who kill people? Has anyone ever asked them, what killing other human beings, has done to their souls?

I have talked to such individuals. (I’ve taught a lot of ex-military folks, and encouraged them to process their experiences.) From what I have seen, the consequences of indiscriminate killing are pretty dire. This is especially true for those on the front lines of the American military, as quiet as all that is kept. These people, often have extreme difficulty, readjusting to any normal kind of life. I’ve seen them struggle with loving themselves, accepting themselves, or letting anyone get close to them. I’ve seen them struggle with sitting quietly in their own skin for more than five minutes.

Do you know what these individuals want, more than anything? (They they often just cannot get?) They want to be human. They want connection. They want to be able to hug a spouse or a child. In short, they want to return to their humanity. For most of them it is a long, hard, treacherous journey back. Quite a few do not make it. This is why the suicide rate among veterans (quiet as it is kept) is so high.

America, sadly, has a long history of monetarily incentivizing men to suppress and completely deny their humanity. Even sadder than that, they are largely pawns. The structures behind these brutal men, usually throw them away when it no longer has any use for them. This is certainly the business model of the American military machine. It’s not so much the case with American law enforcement. While American soldiers seem to be disposable, (especially the low-ranking ones), America protects its bad cops. America seems to be particular generous with and protective of bad cops who are the most vicious and inhumane. That is the deal. I suppose these men have a special place in the dark soul of America.

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Public Domain

This is an image that should deeply disturb you; and yet this image accurately captures the reality of American law enforcement. It is a profession drenched in the blood and death of black people. It is a profession that is intimately connected to and intertwined with American slavery. America’s police force began with a Southern desire to maintain control of slaves, deemed fodder for the institution of slavery. Cops began as overseers, who later turned into slave catchers, once southern slaves began running away to the North. These two potentially lucrative professions in early American history, (slave overseers and catchers) like so many American money-making endeavors, required, yes, required, the suppression of one’s own humanity. The level of evil malevolence that it takes to chase deeply determined, freedom-seeking people clear across the country, to return them to the diabolical inhumane situation that they worked so incredibly hard to escape (precisely because it was so diabolical), is a nearly unthinkable level of inhumanity for most of us.

And…yet it still happens.

Colson Whitehead, in his Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad, creates a character, a slave catcher, named Ridgeway. By putting you in the head of this character, Whitehead puts you inside the mind of a psychopath who absolutely delights in physically and psychologically tormenting recaptured slaves. He burns them. He shoots them in multiple places, but not to the point of killing them. He randomly but brutally beats them. He dresses them up in clothes for his personal amusement and makes them sing and dance, while constantly reminding them, that they have no choice but to submit to whatever cruel whim he can imagine. They are in chains. They are enslaved…and if he so chooses, he will kill them.

This psychopathic sickness has embedded itself into a lot of cop DNA; and this kind of cruelty is no longer, limited to captured slaves. It is bleeding out, literally, to all manner of life form. Even white life. Yes. Even affluent white life. It is quiet kept, but white American life is being threatened too. It happens. (Real talk it has always happened.) This brings me to Sergeant Pepper Spray.

In 2012, when frustrated millennials camped out on Wall Street (and on campuses nationwide) to protest all of the same damn things the human collective is protesting all over the world today, Sergeant Pepper spray decided to show the world, how little human lives mattered. Sergeant Pepper spray seemed to be delighted, to use a peaceful protest as an opportunity to in douse affluent University of Berkley college campus in pepper spray, (hence the nickname Sergeant Pepper spray.)

I remember my own disgust with Sergeant Pepper Spray. I thought to myself, those students could have been my students! I wondered what in the world would posses someone to do such a horrendous thing! Who permitted Sergeant Pepper Spray to do this to peaceful protestors? Wasn’t this America? Yes, of course it was America.

I was appalled. I wanted to cry. I was teaching Honors English students at my local Community College. My students, who already had a long and growing list of real concerns about the world around them, and finding their place in it, were already pretty agitated about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Wanting to contribute to the occupy movement; they opted into a social justice community learning project designed to raise awareness about the International human rights issue of child soldiers in countries in Africa, and South America. They were already venturing deeply into the territory of extreme inhumanity; and were so upset about what they were learning.

And, as horrible as all of that was, as appalled as they were with the plight of child soldiers in this world; they were equally, (if not more disturbed), by images of Sergeant Pepper Spray, exterminating living breathing human beings!

The sight of Sergeant Pepper Spray dousing those students in a toxic substance with such clear disregard for human life, was much like the sight of Officer Chauvin, cavalierly and viciously pressing the life out of Mr. Floyd. We were all collectively outraged. These images completely violate the collective humanity in us all. Viewing them, without outrage means that we are becoming less human.

Are we going to be human? If you are a human being, if you want to be considered a part of this species, that is called human, you cannot witness these events — and not be disturbed. To turn a blind eye to it, is to forfeit pieces of your own soul. And to do that is to become something less than human.

That is what is on the line for all of us, on this earth right now. Are we going to recognize our inherent humanity (and with that, also our divinity?) Are we going to acknowledge the sacredness of our own souls?

Like Sergeant Pepper Spray before him, Derek Chauvin’s actions outraged the humanity inside of everyone who has a soul that is awake. This is why we are going into nearly our third week of global protests, despite the fact there is a lethal virus (a real biological virus) on the move. We are human. Our souls absolutely refuse to be silenced on this point.

Our souls our speaking and this is what they are saying the world over:

Black Lives Matter.

All Life Matters.

Police Reform Must Happen NOW.

White Supremacy is a sickness that must cease. Reject it.

We are better than this.

We are human. Let’s not forget that. Let’s be fully human.

Working with the Light!

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