I want to make one thing very clear: I PERSONALLY am not arguing with anyone about anything. I do not hold the desire to change anyone's heart or mind and I definitely don't want to educate people who just want to fight, but I acknowledge that other people might. This is for you.

Recently I've put a lot of thought into the way we engage in conversation online on the subject of police brutality. I have to admit that I am not an expert and many things around this topic, I'm learning right along with many others. However, I do believe I'm pretty good at talking to people and engaging them in a manner that is meant to de-escalate and form understanding. (when I want to. Sometimes I'm willing to let the conversation burn.)

First and foremost, I'd like to acknowledge that the pain one feels when arguing with a friend or family member about this is very real. You are allowed to be sad if you end up cutting off someone because of your convictions and your belief that those who murder people, regardless of their occupation, their skin tone, or anything else, should be held accountable for that murder. You are allowed to grieve that loss, but when you're done I hope you stand back up and stand tall in your convictions.

When talking to people about police brutality:

Go into the conversation, wanting to be wrong. We should all want to be wrong about police brutality. It would be a miracle if there was some slight miscalculation on the part of statisticians around the world. Wanting to be wrong removes your ego from the conversation. There are times where we keep something going because we want to be right, let's go ahead and remove that barrier. Now, this is about you helping the other person show you that they're right.

Stick to the facts, while acknowledging the emotion. A lot of people are fighting because they personally know someone who is a cop and they don't want to see that person as being a bad person. That is their business. In this case, talk about what they admire about that person and the ways in which they've seen the person actively combat discrimination on the police force. It is my personal belief that if you hold someone in high regard, then you should hold them to a higher standard. By idolizing someone, you are saying 'this person is the paradigm for what I believe others should be'. If this is truly someone worth idolizing, they would have tangible examples of how that person has carried themselves in a positive way as an officer.

Another approach would be to point out that they are allowed to love the cop they know and still acknowledge that police should be held accountable when they abuse power or murder someone and never waiver from that position. With this approach, do not make it personal. Keep the focus on policing as a whole. We don't have the data for their one cop friend. We do have the data for police departments around the country and that data presents patterns that point to discriminatory practices.

Ask to see the numbers. If you are talking to someone who is insisting that police brutality is not a problem, then kindly ask them to produce those numbers for you. There are many metrics to use, from the eight policies just produced by the 8Can'tWait campaign that used data to prove that there are 8 policies that can be implemented to reduce police violence by over 70% to data about the demographics of traffic stops and the outcome of those stops. How many people were let go with a warning? How many people were subsequently searched? Of those searched, how many were arrested? And what did all of these people look like. We must ask ourselves and those around us, are you making the assumption of safety and righteousness or do you know for sure?

It is not our job as citizens to prove to the police that they are not discriminatory. It is their job, as people who have taken an oath to protect, to prove to us that we are safe.

Other resources:

Obama released an advocacy toolkit to talk about what community policing could look like and how we can get there.

Check The Police is a project dedicated to examining how police unions block accountability.

Pew did research about the history of the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, and it provides a look at how the AllLivesMatter hashtag was born and is used as a method to dismantle and combat the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I think there are people who believe AllLivesMatter has less nefarious beginnings. That is simply not true.