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I ❤ coffee. 

I am Shauna Shanks. I love green smoothies. I'm an author, mom & wife chasing smallness.

A White Cop's Wife Perspective; My Essay on the Black Police-Related Shootings

A White Cop's Wife Perspective; My Essay on the Black Police-Related Shootings

“Another cop shooting of a black man sparks protests in Baton Rouge.” These headlines flooded the web today as a video surfaced of Alton Sterling being killed in front of a convenience store. 

My husband buckled his utility belt and let out a deep sigh. Going out into the night streets as a police officer the day after an officer-involved shooting is dreadful. 

When he became a police officer 7 years ago, his position was largely viewed as heroic. The career path an honorable one, an officer of peace, the badge a beacon of safety. A public servant. But in the wake up police brutality, racial tensions at a boiling point and political unrest, this position that was once respected has made him a target of threats, taunts and violence.

This morning my husband’s personal cell phone was flooded with text messages demanding he answer for these officers who killed Alton Sterling. Demanding he speak for their actions. Friends became hostile based on his position, not his own personal actions which reflect in no way as the “killers on a rampage” that we see on grainy cell phone videos. 

People we’ve known our whole lives posted on their social media platforms condemning all uniformed officers and calling for their badges, and in some heated conversations, calling for their heads. I read one comment where one citizen wished to find a cop alone in an alley where they could take revenge into their own hands.

Whoa. It’s a scary day to be a cop’s wife.

I, too want reform! I want justice! I cry for change! But when random strangers are calling to murder my husband for the wrongful actions of another, that is dangerous. It’s dangerous to condemn a whole group of people wether it be for the color of their skin or their career path. Be careful that you do not become the very thing you hate.

As a young child, the system failed my husband.

We live in a society that over-prescribes medications. Many Americans get hooked on these easily assessable and over-prescribed meds, directly creating the all-too common drug addict. The addiction renders said person unable to work, in effect enabling them to live dependent on government services. The addiction often times prevents the person of being capable of taking proper care of their children, putting them in unsafe environments, many time sublets of the government. 

It was this type of environment my husband was brought up in. The system failed him. The government did not protect him. In fact, the programs set up by the government became enabling programs, assuring his cycle of poverty and abuse would surely continue unharassed by the inconvenience of having to work or pay a mortgage. By not putting the breaks on over-prescribing by the medical field, the drug epidemic in America is fueled. Failure to reform the public welfare system continues to fail so many children in similar cases and encourages poverty to continue in this country.

But my husband overcame his troubled childhood.

With little support, he dusted himself off and decided to go to school and become an officer of the law. He wanted to help people. He didn’t just have a heart for the less fortune, he was the less fortunate. He went back to the ghettos where he grew up and was a voice of encouragement. A nudge to get out and do something of value. Working the thin blue line was his way of protecting the people, and serving the underserved in our own community. 

Some would say now that was the wrong choice. Just the very word “policing” leaves such a sour taste in the minds of so many. Before I could even post this blog, yet another black man was murdered at the hands of police. I woke up to a text from my husband, “There was another shooting in Minnesota. Looks awful. What is wrong with these guys?”

He cannot speak for every officer who acts like a murderer and a thug. Nor can he speak for the judge or the process who gives these officers a slap on the wrist. Nor can he speak for the government when they implement terrible laws and regulate broken systems. He is, however accountable for his own actions.

We are at a loss. Do you quit? Do you step away from the broken system? I can’t help but think the loss of a good officer would only add to the problem.

As difficult as it is, we have to keep perspective. It’s dangerous to condemn a whole group of people wether it be for the color of their skin or their career path. it is so important to love people. Not just to love your cause. 

Though I am not black, I am human.

I cannot fully understand nor articulate the plight of black people, especially in recent days. But when I woke up and saw that video on my newsfeed today, I was absolutely heartbroken. As the shots fired, something in my spirit was crushed. I broke not only for the man who so faithfully stood and sold cd’s in front of a convenient store every day, but for an entire people group who would certainly be mourning today. 

The next morning I watched the heartbreaking interviews of the families of Philando Castile. This anguish extends beyond the Castile families to the black community all around our nation.

You must feel so betrayed. So angry. So helpless. The system has utterly failed you. You feel targeted. Misunderstood, hated, and you hate. You hate the injustice.

You hate racism. You hate the emptiness from the loss of a life you will never get back. You hate the fear you have raising your children in this broken land. You hate the evil that exists that fills people and makes them capable of such evil. You hate the corruption of the system. 

I hate with you. I have heard by some that because I am not black I am not allowed to voice my feeling. But I still feel. A human life was lost. My brother. A fellow American. My security was also shattered today.

It’s not human nature to sit by and let injustice rage on, and it’s not my nature either. It’s not my husband’s- the white cop’s nature either. We want to protest, to fight, to publish articles, to call meetings, to demand our voice to be heard!

Our country is divided beyond what I’ve ever seen before. This upcoming election is so tense, it’s literally splitting friendships and families. People sit behind screens and hate monger. We cannot see another viewpoint to save our souls. My problem with the Black Lives Matter vs. Police is why can’t I be on both sides? The world demands black and white answers (no pun intended). 

Our culture tells us we have to pick one. The election demands you vote either republican or democratic. Pick one. You can’t be both. So we sit obediently on our respective sides, only fully agreeing with what’s going on, but we can’t say anything. Because we picked our side already.

You must be pro-black lives or pro-police. Pick one. You can’t pick both, it says. If I speak up for my husband, I’m a racist, but if I speak for my black brothers, I’m anti-cop. Can we please stop drawing lines and sitting in outdated boxes constructed by a very flawed system?

If the system is broken we have to fix it. All of us. We need people from all sides of the tracks coming together on this one. Get out of your box and love people already. Love despite the labels, gender, skin color, or social class. We are under attack, all of us and we better wake up already.

This morning I watched my family from the black community gather at a complete loss. Where do they go? What do they do? How do they seek justice? What do they tell their children?

I did not see cars burning, businesses being looted, and beer bottles being broken in the streets. I watched a black brother standing before a crowd angry and feeling helpless, and calling for something. He did what I would have done. He turned where the black community has turned to for decades in this country. He turned to God, to his fierce faith, and led the protestors in a desperate prayer. He called to his protector, his vindicator, his king and righteous judge. The Holy Spirit filled my space as my brother prayed. I am praying with you. I am agreeing with you.

I don’t believe the answer is getting rid of all the police officers.   We need officers in uniform who will serve with dignity of human life. If the good officers flee their positions, who will stand with you? We need officers who view their authority as a mission to protect and serve, who believe they must stand accountable for their actions to God himself.

I don’t believe the answer is getting rid of the black lives matter organization. I’ve heard arguments that the movement as whole is racist and divisive. But where else are the people to go? They can’t do nothing! We need leaders in the black lives matter movement who will not only fiercely love and lead the black community but who will lead with integrity following the same principles we are bound to as follower’s of Jesus. 

I refuse to let the vandals, the violent protestors who harm the innocent, and those who burn down businesses to distort my viewpoint for all the black community. The sanctity of human life is for all. 

I believe, likewise that people can value officer lives with the ability to process that the fault in some do not define thousands of good officers around the country, who quietly serve the underserved with respect and dignity. 

My husband has a good friend who is a black businessman. Their perspectives could not be more opposite. My husband, the cop’s view, sees the dark underbelly of the city, leaving the familiar scar many cop’s have seared into their minds. Such a wide knowledge of the terrors and crimes they witness every day skews their worldview. It is a fight to stay positive and believe the best when they repeatedly see the worst. We need to be there for these public servants, to cover them in prayer and uplift them. 

His black friend has an entrepreneurial spirit who brings jobs to our city, collaborating with other business owners and has an uplifting spirit and literally sings out loud every day. He is passionate about social justice. He makes our whole community brighter.

Both of these men are down today. And I’m sad for both of them. There is a dark undercurrent at work trying to tear us apart, pin us against each other. But I truly believe we are better together, if we can stay together.

And I believe we must.

-Shauna

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