Regardless of the circumstances, George Floyd should not be dead. His death is a direct failure of the attending police officers, the Minneapolis Police Department and the mayors of Minneapolis – including Jacob Frey, a Democrat – who were elected by the people. It’s evident that there is, and has been since 2012, at least, a gross neglect for human life by Minneapolis’ leadership and those entrusted to protect it. But his death does not justify any violence and looting, not even in Minneapolis. One city does not represent every city. One police department does not represent every police department. One white man does not represent every white man. And, in an ideal world, one violent Black Lives Matter protester does not represent every black person.

I fear that the violent protesters are reinforcing prejudices of those who dislike black people. The media, politicians, civil rights activists and celebrities are, for better or worse, strengthening the association between black people and recklessness. It doesn’t matter if people of other races are either participating in or encouraging the unrest because those on the outside only know what they’re fed. President Obama and, former NBA player, Dennis Rodman have spoken up against the violence, but they are part of the minority. Many other notable people, black or not, support all of the protesters. They have not used their platform to discourage violence, rather encourage change with no qualifications.

Changing others perception of a race probably takes decades, if not generations. No race is perfect, and each has their flaws – some similar and some unique. Fair or not, black people are among the most disliked in the world. Whether it’s the result of being outspoken at generally unacceptable times, lacking common manners and etiquette or criminal activity, the frequency of those situations reinforces existing stereotypes. Although that doesn’t represent the majority of black people, those involved have neglected to take responsibility for their race’s reputation. Enough of them have chosen selfish actions over changing perceptions. Even the Chinese are cognizant of their international reputation, going so far as blaming bad behaviors on “poor quality and breeding” and creating a dos and don’ts guide for those traveling abroad. It’s unfair to stereotype, but life is unfair. Culturally, Americans are among the most conservative, genuinely good and equal opportunistic in the world. A world leader in those regards, believe it or not. Discrimination is frowned upon, and even vilified. But, it’s just one country, one way of life. Discrimination of all types is openly practiced in many other countries, every day. It’s a privilege to be an American citizen.

For having lived in Southeast and East Asia and Central West Africa, I’ve seen what it really means to be poor and underprivileged and it’s nothing like that in America. It’s far worse, and there’s no hope – not even a lying politician targeting the poor and underprivileged voters to win an office. Social welfare programs that exist are a joke compared to America’s welfare benefits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the jobless in Vietnam and Thailand were eligible to receive up to $77 and up to $154 per month, respectively. Comparatively, the jobless in America could receive $3,340 to $5,532 per month (inclusive of the CARES Act subsidy), in addition to other welfare benefits – many of them are receiving more money per month from unemployment than they had made prior. Sure, the cost of living is significantly different, but it’s hard for anyone to live on the equivalent of $0.36 to $5 per day. They are places where parents sell or pimp their children for money, sons and daughters don’t have the opportunity to finish grade school and teenage and of age females choose prostitution out of desperation, just to put rice on the table and a sheet metal roof, if that, over the heads of their family. Black people in America are among the most privileged in the world.

I once took handouts to survive. There was a time I couldn’t hold a job, and lived above my means. I was lazy and didn’t want to work, yet I wanted to have fun and spend money. I could have continued to live that way for as long as possible, but actively choose to change because of the shame I felt for spending money earned by someone else. For much of my childhood, my mom and I were poor. We didn’t have much after my father, her first husband, had suddenly died. My problems could be blamed on many things. I had even tried to use part of my disadvantaged life to get pity for self-gain. But eventually I realized that I was just belittling myself. Pity was not going to get me anywhere in life. Only I had the power to change my future and how others perceived me.

The Black Lives Matter protesters have every right to protest, peacefully. Peaceful protests have been effective methods for change. Many of them, for instance, had occurred in Seoul, South Korea from 2016 to 2017 that successfully forced the impeachment of its corrupt President, Park Geun-hye. But, conversely, those who choose to participate in or encourage violent protests distract attention away from the cause. And, unfortunately, in the case of this Black Lives Matter movement, reinforces dislike of black people worldwide. There’s a reason why people from all walks of life will go out of their way to avoid walking near or passing close to a black person. I believe in Black Lives Matter. I don’t believe in crime.

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