Do all lives really matter to you?
Yes, all lives matter! But I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear the “all lives matter” argument when black lives are being discussed. I’m not saying it’s not true, because it’s obvious to you that all lives matter. But it’s not so obvious to me.
Being a black man for 55 years gives you a different perspective of what really matters. If you’re not black, there’s no way you can understand, and I truly don’t expect you to. But I do hope you will consider opening your minds and hearts to my perspective.
At age 10 and living in the city of Rochester, N.Y., I witnessed police shoot a neighbor more than 12 times while on his porch. Many of the bullets hit while he was already lying on the floor. I didn’t truly understand what was happening at the time, but the trauma was real.
I personally have never been in trouble with the law. But even so, I’ve found myself facing the wrong end of a cop’s gun barrel on a few different occasions.
The first was when I was in my mid-20s. I was driving down a side street in Rochester, N.Y., when a cop car suddenly pulled in front of me. In a matter of seconds, I was surrounded by cops with their guns drawn. When it was all said and done I was able to continue on my way because I didn’t make a sudden move or reach for my wallet prior to showing my hands out the window. I was guilty of being a young black man driving a nice sports car.
The last incident occurred when I was in my early 50s and in the last leg of a long, one-hour, 40-minute commute home from work in Syracuse. I noticed the cop car on my tail for about 5 minutes, when, boom! the lights came on and he pulled me over. I thought it was one squad car, but I soon noticed there were multiple cars. I also noticed an officer outside my rear truck window taking aim through the glass. The officer that stopped me came to the driver’s side window, and I asked him why I was being stopped.
After a few minutes of grilling, he told me I matched the description of someone involved in a drive-by shooting.
Of course I did.
When it was all said and done, I was one of the lucky ones who made it home to my family.
To most people, being stopped by the police means a ticket or points on your license, but to a black man or woman it can mean life or death.
I have a black son and daughter, and I worry about things that most of you don’t. I worry about my son getting pulled over by the police and making a sudden move to retrieve his wallet. I worry about him running into one of the bad cops and ending up dead for no reason other than being a young black man.
If you really want to share the anger and frustration black people feel, you have to imagine your son’s, daughter’s, brother’s, father’s, or mother's neck under that cop's knee as they beg for life.
I’m a black man. That’s who I am. I love everyone regardless of race, gender or religion, because that’s how I was raised. At the end of the day, black men want what most men want, and that is to make it home safely to our families.
So whose lives matter? All lives matter. And, yes, BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!!
Editor's note: At the Post Bulletin, we believe equality is a basic human right. We strongly condemn all forms of racism and prejudice.
Ken Henry grew up in Rochester, N.Y. He joined the Post Bulletin as advertising director on Jan. 16, 2019. He's been married to his high school sweetheart, Carla, for 33 years, and they have a daughter, Carneisha, and a son, Kenneth Jr. He's been a Christian for more than 27 years and loves to fish in his spare time.