Black. Lives. Matter!

These aren’t isolated incidents. These aren’t “accidents.” These bodies aren’t piling up due “bad upbringings,” failed field training or poor judgment from “bad apples.” These are educated individuals who know the difference between right and wrong, making careless decisions and blatantly and unapologetically killing people. Period.

These are people with real lives – moms and dads, brothers and sisters, cousins, with kids of their own – lost to police brutality and blatant (and I mean blatant!) systematic racism. One more time for the cheap seats: These are real human lives… lost… bloodshed in broad daylight, at the hands of those sworn to protect the communities they serve, the whole community.

These gut-wrenching stories and political responses that reverberate the 24-hour news cycle have become just as unavoidable, saturated, and nauseating as they are palpably unacceptable and inexcusable in the hearts and minds of the awakened.

There is simply no time left for “extensive, internal investigations.” We cannot wait for change, anymore. We, as a society of people, all of us, cannot continue to accept the embarrassing and shameful lack of support, restitution, and real change promised to the families and communities that live their lives – their WHOLE FUCKING LIVES! – in a constant state of fear, mourning, and increased risk. “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough!

It’s understandable (and fair) to think (or want to ignore) that you (hello, white people!) – on the individual level – cannot do anything to rewrite the national landscape in the immediate sense. I hear you. It’s daunting. I get it. But, I don’t agree. It’s reckless and it makes you a terrorist to turn a blind eye and call it “not your problem.” It is our problem. This is just as much our mess as it is anyone else’s. And, frankly, we’re the only ones with the power and leverage to clean it up.

We cannot change the channel every time we don’t understand what is being said. We cannot reach for our rose-colored glasses when what is happening in the communities and lives of those around us darken the fantasy of what we’ve been raised to believe this world to be.

There are two kinds of bad people in the world: those that do bad things and those that stand by and do nothing to stop it. Every day people of a certain color are targeted and/or killed for simply being. Black. Brown. Alive. Their fear is discounted. Their rights are removed. Their screams go ignored. They can’t breathe! And, for far too long, and under far too casual reasons, their lives come to an abrupt end. So, what are we going to do about it?

If you think what is happening now – the voices carrying the conversations and bodies that represent the movements – will one day fall silent or disappear, you are dead wrong. They’re going to get louder. WE ARE GOING TO GET LOUDER. The numbers will rise. WE WILL RISE. And change is most definitely going to come.

This post first appeared on Facebook.