I love this country. I value the fact that due to no effort or wisdom on my part I grew up in the United States. This country has been good to me. However, regardless of my personal experience, others claim a different reality. Julia Craven writes, “The system continues to fail Black people.” Our country, which has treated me so kindly, has not regarded others with equal respect. No one wins when the system continues to be rigged in favor of a few.
Police bashing will never provide a sensible answer. Most police want to serve and will risk their lives to protect others. When police make mistakes, we need to own the fact that our system did not education them well. Sometimes, family lessons twist minds. Misconceptions often continue in our schools and even our churches. Finally, police academies cement misconceptions by emphasizing guns rather than communication skills. However, the injuries to Blacks represent much more than a police problem.
Our judicial system appears spineless when the issues involve race. How many times have we witnessed brutality toward Black males on television, and later felt astonished when courts determined that the perpetrators did no wrong? Julia Craven claims that although 991 Black citizens were shot and killed in 2015, jury outcomes did not result in a single guilty verdict. Doesn’t that seem astonishing? That odd imbalance of verdicts suggests that attitudes rearrange facts in the minds of jurors.
The current plan to keep America safe anticipates deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. It seems like a good plan, doesn’t it? We all want our cities safe. What could possible be objectionable about a plan to protect the United States?
Sometimes, the finest plans do not work out quite as we envisioned. Please allow me to share a few unintended consequences associated with 278(g), which became law in September 1996. This law called upon local, county, and state law enforcement officers to assist ICE with identifying, processing and detaining immigrants. Although the idea sounded reasonable, consider the outcomes listed below:
- Instead of developing trust between police and communities, 287(g) promoted fear and suspicion. Police officers became enemies of the people.
- When communities perceived police as enemies, the lives of officers became endangered.
- Once community members became distrustful, they stopped asking for help. For example, a woman whose husband sexually molested their eight-year-old daughter became too anxious about deportation to ask for help. Had she been deported, the documented father would have stayed and kept the child with him.
- Deporting workers often removed key witnesses. After identifying a human traffic operation in an Arkansas restaurant, ICE deported all busboys, wait persons, and dishwashers. No witnesses remained to testify against the guilty owners who went free.
The chasm between police and Black Americans deepened. Suspicions intensified. Ultimately, Americans watched three days of living horror. Citizens now ask, “Can Americans be pro-police and pro-Black? Many think not. Yet out of our national despair we must grasp for a glimmer of hope.
Surely we can comprehend the unacceptable consequences of killing one another. Hopefully, we will summon the courage to address two issues: our prejudices and our hate talk. Both scream for reform.
- If we want our nation of values to survive, we must relinquish our ill thought out biases. Do we want to be stubbornly “right” or do we want to heal as a nation? The drumbeat goes both ways. Police fear Blacks and the Black communities suspect that all law officers are out to get them. Both groups can claim partial truths. Both alliances must also admit falsehoods. In truth, good and courageous individuals exist in both camps.
Within the last forty-eight hours, two gunfire eruptions have ripped the fabric of our nation. To those who continually preach hatred and fear of Black Americans I ask, “Do you really want to ignite the Civil War again?”
As a white grandmother, mother, and retired educator, I sit in the comfortable safety of my neighborhood and wonder what terrifying thoughts would I have if my husband, son, and grandsons were dark? I try to perceive an unimaginable level of prejudice. I ask, “What right do I have to my privileged shelter?” More important, what responsibilities do I have in response to raw hatred?
First, I acknowledge that thousands of police officers risk their lives daily to protect society. However, we must also acknowledge the consequences of some insufficient training. When did our protecting agents decide to shoot first and ask questions later? Continue reading