Since the murder of George Floyd, the country’s undergone a significant change. Massive, diverse protests have filled the streets in America and globally, calling for an end to police brutality and racism in all its forms.
Shrines to a bigoted, uneven, and in some cases, patently false history are being torn down. National monuments are coming under fire about their true antiquity while sports teams are having to rethink the significance of their logos, names and mascots.
Outwardly, people are finally examining what it means to be a black person or minority in America. And in many cases, that degree of introspection is visibly painful. Nevertheless, it’s occurring, despite Trump attempts to label #BLM a terrorist organization. Still, if meaningful police reform was and still is the goal of all this then the goal is visibly slipping away. Can it be reclaimed? Can we continue to harness, and more importantly nourish, this positive sway of worldwide solidarity we’ve been experiencing? The short answer is yes but we have to start chewing our food better.
It’d be easy to go with the flow of things. Except, we started out protesting a murder and find ourselves now challenging the past in all its forms. And while that is surely a good thing, it just shows how quickly our attention can shift when dealing with the huge table of racism. It’s not our fault.
We’re like famished men and women, denied the food of equitable justice for lifetimes, only allowed to smell it from outside the kitchen and now, when we finally have a chance to grab a seat, not even take our seat genteelly at the table like our white counterparts, we have to fight for it still, tooth and nail, so when we finally do sit down all helter-skelter, we’re overwhelmed with the choices before us and figure that any moment this opportunity will be snatched away like all the others. So we can’t help but gobble up as much as we can, filling our mouths to the point of almost choking on the nourishment.
Chew your food.
It’s simple but a reminder to focus on what we are trying to do; and that is change police tactics that allow officers to indiscriminately use deadly force, without any risk of oversight or sanction. And that involves the reform of qualified immunity.
Sadly, it still remains much of a, “what’s in it for me?” situation as white people everywhere need to be shown that police brutality is not solely a black or minority problem. It involves them as much as us as it’s really an under-reported universal, and tactical, issue. According to Fatal Force, the Washington Post database on police shootings in America, the police kill roughly 1000 citizens yearly and half of them are white.
While it’s true that Blacks are killed at a higher rate than Whites, the numbers are still surprising: since January 2015, police have killed 1,298 black people and 2,485 white people. Rifling through the database, some things stand out.
For example, many of the white victims had weapons, guns or knives and were fleeing from police, yet at the same time, there was no body cam footage available in many; a troubling aspect of past police incidents involving African-Americans. And of those 2,485, 146 were unarmed; a relatively small percentage of their overall total but nevertheless a sum that would surely garner the attention of a nation that right now thinks the door is only swinging in one direction.
Truth is we may have to deal with those that have shown no love for us over the years. Besides the equitable reporting of white police killings, harnessing the support of pols, Rand Paul perhaps or others like him as odd as that seems, could be the beginning of a much needed partnership between the movement, the legislative and judicial branches.
But none of this happens unless we put down the easy, flaky desserts of national monuments, stop the violence and chow down on the steak of our main course. Chew your food.