Living While Black
To Protect And Serve?
Makes You Wannna Holler.
Right off the top I want to make it clear that in my nearly 62 years of walking through this life as a black man I have never had a confrontation good, or bad with a law enforcement officer. But this article is not about me. I am not concerned about what did, or didn't happen during my journey. It is more about my concern for other men of color who unfortunately have not been as lucky as me: and I do mean lucky. What motives me to write this Hub is recent events where the victims looked like me and could very easily been my son, brothers, nephews, cousins or any number of other minority men whom I care about. About a year ago I wrote a Hub about the relationship between police and the black community. Since that time that relationship has gone from really bad to absolutely horrendous. Riots in Baltimore, a black man being shot in the back and killed by officers in South Charleston, South Carolina, and last but certainly not least civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri when a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man. As Marvin Gaye once said in one of his hit songs in the 1970's. "What's Going On?" The high-profile names are more than familiar now. Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, and although they did not kill him-Rodney King who's name should also be included in this conversation. Of course it was King who was brutally beaten by Los Angeles Police in the early 1990's. I continue to be amazed at how and why the white community wonders why blacks are angry. I have edited and changed this story countless times because every time I think I can write a conclusion, something new and even more outrageous and in many cases tragic happens. Case in point: nine innocent people worshipping at a church on a Wednesday night were gunned down by a proud racist white supremacist.( Not a Policeman) Most white people interviewed on TV (including politicians) expressed their remorse and outrage. Quick to blame it on one deranged misguided mentally ill individual. The shooter is probably all those things, but let's dig a little deeper. Some suggesting it was just another "isolated incident" Let's work hard to get our shovels to the root cause of what kind of climate and environment breeds this kind of person.
Black Lives Matter
For the past several months I have been trying to find a nice bow to tie up and finalize this Hub. but since I started that effort violent crimes against blacks seemed to have increased and happen every few months. Add to the previously mentioned victims, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and countless other men of color. Black females have not been excluded in the carnage. Names like Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna, have made the news. Unfortunately many other victims have not gotten the national publicity. Of course each situation that I have mentioned has it's own particulars, and circumstances, but somehow one has to think there has to be a way for trained officers to manage situations in ways that do not include weapons, or choke holds. This situation continues to have me very frustrated, I understand that police have very difficult jobs and often find themselves in very difficult and dangerous circumstances. Anyone regardless of their race who gets pulled over should also understand that those who work in law enforcement for good reason are a little jumpy now days when confronting a citizen. It does not take officers long to understand what is meant when they are told " there is no such thing as a routine call."
Black Communities Protesting Louder.
Gender Does Not Seem To Matter.
No Easy Answers
The relationship between police and the black community is perhaps the worse I have ever experienced. I am old enough to remember the 1960's when the racial climate seemed to be even more hostile, but I can't be sure that it was worse than what it is today. What we have now is a black community with a different approach to all matters having to do with race. Young people of all racial backgrounds (especially black kids) are more likely to challenge authority. They seem to have less and less respect for adults including, but certainly not limited to their parents. Add alcohol, drugs, and guns, suddenly you have potential for explosive confrontations.
Compassion Needed On Both Sides
So Where Do We Go From Here?
I so wish I had a short and simple answer to this questions, But I offer a few suggestions:
- More diversity for all law enforcement agencies
- Better community policing
- Mutual respect on the part of both police and citizens
- Improved training for both police and citizens on how to deal with each other
- Create positive interaction between police and citizens
I know the above suggestions are very simplistic and basic, and there are certainly many more, but this would just be my starting point. Any goal that has ever been accomplished started with a person, or people taking the first step.
In conclusion I am hoping that communities regardless of their racial/ethnic make up will find a way to bridge this chasm that currently exist between police and the citizens. Far too many lives have already been lost because of a lack of communication, understanding, and compassion. As a parent of children who are black, I had to have what is commonly referred to "as the talk," making sure that both my children especially my male child knew what should be said, and what should not be said during an encounter with a police officer. It is a parent-child talk that most white parents don't even know exists. Here's hoping that in the years to come that talk will not be necessary for any parent to have with their children regardless of their race, color, or creed.