America has a race problem, and America has a policing problem. For some idiotic reason these have both become politicized statements, with obnoxious conservatives denying both these undeniable assertions outright and obnoxious liberals using them to manipulate votes out of minorities while doing absolutely nothing to reduce the militarization of the US police force or address any of the other underlying problems in any meaningful way, but that doesn’t make them any less true. America has a race problem, America has a policing problem, and America’s corrupt corporatist political system refuses to do anything about either of these things.
It is worth identifying exactly what this problem is: many Americans literally do not believe black lives matter. If I tell a conservative white American that the murder of a 12-year-old by a police officer, such as what happened in the Tamir Rice case, represents an injustice and, as such, an utter failure of the justice system, this sentiment will be met by little more than a shrug in an alarmingly high percentage of cases. Why? Because a large number of white people literally do not believe that black lives matter. The very notion that black people are humans and that black lives matter as much as white lives is anathema to them.
Black Lives Matter confronts this head-on. Implicit in the words is the recognition that, to many, black lives do not matter. When Black Lives Matter rallies in response to indefensible police violence, it goes beyond this to recognize that many people who do not believe black lives matter, who see black people as subhuman, are in positions of authority that enable them to carry out unjust violence against black people.
When we say “America has a race problem,” this is the problem. It has always been the problem. Let’s not leave it unspoken or unidentified. The problem is not only that a great many people do not believe that black lives matter, but also that those people are empowered to act on that belief to do harm to black people. Disarming and disempowering these people and, more importantly, tearing down the institutions that allow these people to continually rise to power and enact their bigoted will on others is how this race problem is solved.