by Ed Beroset
Chapel Hill, NC – The definition of the word “protest” is “a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.” So the essence of it is just that, rather than necessarily a general agreement on a solution. In order to craft a solution, one must first understand the problem and a protest is, by its nature, but a first step toward a solution.
One difficulty in answering the question “what do they want?” is that there isn’t yet a consensus on a solution. It’s also not just a question of what “they” want, but rather what “we” want. Are we satisfied with the status quo? Are there improvements that we could make to ourselves, our communities, or society?
I don’t pretend to speak for “them” or even “us” but just “me.” I think about what change I would like to see and actively work, as I am able, to effect those changes. So I try to do what I can to improve myself, my community, and perhaps collectively, our society.
So to be a bit more specific about the current protests, there are many things that might be changed. For instance, African American people today are two and a half times more likely to be killed by police than white people. The U.S. has about five percent of the world’s population, but 21% of the world’s prisoners. African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost six times that of whites. African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites.
But these are just numbers; a deeper understanding requires more. I’d encourage anyone interested in a deeper understanding to use the computer on which you’re reading this to search and read and exercise your own critical thinking as you read the words of both those who are like you and those who are not.