Racism: Police Need Us

This is not an anti-police rant, nor an indictment of the brave men and women who serve our communities with honor, kindness, and empathy.

This is about racism.

The Police Need Us, as Much as We Need Them

This is also a plea to my fellow White-Americans. 

The police need our help. Racism is preventing them from doing their job.

They need help to put an end the systematic racism that is taking the lives of our fellow citizens of color.

They need help disrupting the racist system that criminalizes being a person a color.

They need help standing up to the racist system that fails over and over again to protect and serve the communities they are tasked with keeping safe.

The good ones, the good cops are in an impossible situation. They rely on a system and a group of people that is wrought with racism and corruption.

These good cops take seriously the oath they swore to uphold.

It likely read something like this, “The Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior. ”

On my honor,
I will never betray my badge1,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution2
my community3 and the agency I serve. 

The IACP goes on to explain what officers must understand before taking that pledge…

Honor means that one’s word is given as a guarantee.
Betray is defined as breaking faith with the public trust.
Badge is the symbol of your office.
Integrity is being the same person in both private and public life.
Character means the qualities that distinguish an individual.
Public trust is a charge of duty imposed in faith toward those you serve.
Courage is having the strength to withstand unethical pressure, fear or danger.
Accountability means that you are answerable and responsible to your oath of office.
Community is the jurisdiction and citizens served.

Sadly, many have not lived up this pledge. And it is up to us to help them do so. As a whole, white American needs to ask…how can we assist law enforcement in eradicating racism’s hold on the police community?

A Call to Arms Against Racism

Officers in many communities have lost the trust, admiration and goodwill of the people they serve. Yet, we still call on them. We expect them to show up when needed and for a majority of the nation they do.

But, it is time for us to show up for them.  

While I believe that those who serve with honor, and courage hold themselves accountable to the tenets of the Constitution, their community and the agencies they serve, and that they deserve our support and respect, I can’t always tell them apart from the bad guys. Can you?

I can only imagine how impossible it must be from their perspective. To be reliant on, to trust their very lives to those they serve with, those who are not worthy of the badge, or the job. 

I imagine it feels impossible to fix from within. I try hard to keep that in mind when yet another citizen of color is unjustifiably killed or brutalized.

I try to understand when they support and close ranks around their brothers and sisters in blue, they need them. Out in the community, they are outnumbered.

There will be more, have been more, senseless violence since I first began to write this, violence against people of color, and against the police. It will not stop on its own.

If Not Us, Then Who?

There will be more marches, riots, petitions, articles, charges…but few if any convictions of the officers perpetrating these acts. No convictions, even after all the evidence is presented. No convictions by judge or jury. Just another officer gone free of the repercussions of their actions. Merely because they are officers, not because they weren’t guilty.

We need conviction. The conviction that these killers will no longer serve our communities. The conviction to end racial profiling. The conviction from cities and towns to hold their police departments accountable. The conviction of communities that all members will be treated justly by its government…and that means the white community stepping up and speaking out.

People of color are not culpable in their own victimization, nor should they be the ones held responsible for trying to solve it. We, the white community are those who need to step in to stop this.

White is Mighty…Racist

It is not the responsibility of the black community to keep fighting for their right to walk the street, drive a car, or shop in stores without being profiled. It is the white community that needs to hold its own self up for scrutiny and demand better of itself and our police forces.

It is the white community that needs to intercede not only in the policing policies affecting our community but in all government agencies and business. To demand a level playing field, counterbalancing inequities that have long repressed the black community. The entirety of the white community needs to be reminded of their responsibility to the rest of the America.

I don’t believe you lack integrity or courage, but you have been largely silent on this White America. Those wrong headed memes screaming “Police Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter,” are indicative of misunderstanding what “Black Lives Matter” truly means.

If you are still on that bandwagon you have a ways to go before you can help out the police. Check yourself. You are seriously misrepresenting the people you think you are speaking up for.

It is the lack of accountability for their actions that allows bad cops to get away with murder. It is our not holding them accountable that allows it to continue to cost people of color their lives.

One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty, and Justice, for All.

Until the white community stops using its privilege to ignore the atrocities being committed against people of color,

Until the white community stops being more afraid of being called a racist than being a racist,

Until all are seen as human, and not valued or demeaned for the color of their skin, will we be free of the scourge that is racism and have a law enforcement community that everyone can trust and rely on. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Privilege: Riots and Protests and Fears, Oh My!

Some people seem to think that when an issue stops making the front page that it has stopped being an issue–I’m looking at you white people. Black lives matter and you need to listen to what they are saying.

Why you? Because you’re blessed by white privilege. Because through no fault of your own you were lucky enough to be born to the majority. Only when you own your privilege can it be mitigated and the playing field leveled for all. Isn’t that fair? Isn’t that one of the first tenets of childhood–be fair.

And do not mistake the actions of rioters for those of protestors. Voices heard long after the moment of heightened rage are no less outraged, their tenor is clear–stop marginalizing the lives of young black men. That is just the start.

Disparity Limits Opportunity

So long as people (again…looking at you white folks) deny that institutional racism placed both Brown and Wilson where they were and are, societal mores stagnate. We’ll never progress past what separates us-anger and resentment. We get ever more defensive, take sides–which divides us even further. Stop digging in your heels as if the recognition of your privilege will cost you something sacred. Fairness is like love, unquantifiable, there’s more than enough to go around.

A little self-reflection may help. When what you “believe” denies others their reality, you are the oppressor. How it happened, and why it is happening still are the results and the consequences of our political system, educational system and the economic disparity that continues to divide and depress communities, people of color, and the poor–regardless of race but disproportionately to anyone not white.

Stop throwing blame back in the face of those oppressed. Looking at the bigger picture doesn’t abdicate personal responsibility, we own our actions, but recognizing the systems that created the inequalities are where we need to start in order to change them. Disparity limits opportunity.

These systems don’t operate in a vacuum. We are not meant to blindly believe in our political parties, or elected officials. We have the right to protest and demand fairness, equality, and the equitable distribution of power. It is our duty, especially when you are in the majority. We (wave your hand in the air with me pale faces) have the power and responsibility to vote to protect those our privilege of majority hurts. You have the power too my friends of all ethnicities (well, you know when congressional districts aren’t being redrawn to deny it).

Everyone must regard the process with respect and acknowledge that it can and should be the means with which we enact change. You do matter, your vote and voice matter. Protest are part of that process. Riots are not. Rich white men (looking at you Koch brothers, Wall Street and the GOP) you need to back the fuck off. Your interference is a form of looting and no less senseless and destructive to the fabric of our communities as riots. Clearly, money and politics do not mix. Voting money out of our system is the only way to ensure all voices are heard.

Start with a no-brainer–NO LOBBYING ALLOWED. Then, stop screwing around with voter rights GOP. Really? Come-on, suppression of voting rights should not be a political strategy. If you can’t win on the merits of your political policies, change them, not who gets to vote. Let’s set real term limits, get rid of PACS, and contributions by companies…I could go on, and on here.

Ugh! Politics, I know, who wants to face that lot. No matter your agenda, liberal, conservative, moderate, be fair to all. Politician’s used to understand that the most important tool in their arsenal was compromise. Now, it seems to be derision, fear-mongering, and illusion.

We the People

Every life matters, Brown’s and Wilson’s. If you don’t work to better the lives of all members of our community the entire system will remain unbalanced and inherently unfair. This is not what our country stands for.

We the People? What a mixed message American culture has. What symbol stands uniquely for America more than the Statue of Liberty? Do you know what’s written on the brass plaque just inside our lovely lady liberty? A sonnet,  “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. The second half reads,

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Do you remember that? Remember when being the melting pot of the world was something we took pride in? Now, we’re tearing families apart, building walls to keep them out instead of opening our arms to welcome them in. Why? When what has been taken away from us by the richest in our nation, why do we blame our brothers and sisters? The need to defend what little we have comes from a false narrative written by the true oppressors. The financial crisis a majority of Americans find themselves in is excuse of those with the money, not those struggling beside us. 

True Colors

Like science deniers (do not get me started on that) many whites “believe,” there is no validity to white privilege. That they are not recipients of privilege by the very virtue of being white. They are truly color blind and not in an altruistic state some like to claim either.

Color-blindness is a deficiency of vision, an inability to see differences, a fault in development. Not seeing what others value of themselves is an insult. Color blindness is denial of anothers right to be seen on their own terms.

Of course we are different and we should be, culturally, ethnically, musically, athletically, and by every other defining facet to being human. That’s the fun stuff, our differences. It’s what makes us interesting and challenging.

Geez, I’m white, I can’t change that, but I can own it.

We can change the lens with which we view the world. Not to be blind to the differences but to see them more clearly, learn from them, be enriched by them. By focusing on our differences you bring attention to the contrasts, negative and positive.

Do not put the weight of educating yourself about race on people of color. They have enough to deal with. You can be a better ally by taking on the responsibility of educating yourself.

Try these resources:

http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/08/ferguson_how_white_people_can_be_allies.html

http://mic.com/articles/97900/10-simple-rules-for-being-a-non-racist-white-person

http://www.tolerance.org/supplement/white-anti-racism-living-legacy

http://bmoreantiracist.org/white-people/29-stupid-things-white-people-do-and-what-we-can-do-instead/

 

I recently came across this food blogger who is addresses racism in a much better way than I ever could. You know, without hitting you over the head with her opinion like I do. People are much more likely to hear you if you aren’t screaming at them about what jerks they are for not thinking the way you do. 

So, for an excellent discussion on race (and bonus! delicious recipes and lovely photos) check out the eloquent Julie Ruble at Willow Bird Baking.