Actually, That Isn't Police Brutality. Warning: It's Factual.
The picture is bigger than most people know.
This article is a response to Medium content creator's Stephen's story on police brutality. Before I get started with my reply, I just want to thank Medium user Ruchama King Feuerman for motivating me to share this. And since I haven't been on Vocal in a while, here I am again!
I’ve been talking about race relations in America ever since a lot of this stuff got “sexy”. My stance is not that of...well, anyone, but let’s explore my response below. Let me say this now, do not go to that man’s post and attack his view with your torches and pitchforks. That’s not how I operate; I believe in the intellectual marketplace, and engaging all ideas with facts and respect.
By the way, I do not believe Stephen is racist, and I believe racism is trash. I also believe the cowboy cops out there are trash no matter who they shoot, but most cops are still caught in the middle of a larger narrative they have no control over (which I will explore below). Unlike most stories I post, this one is an opinion piece, and I’m going light with links. Now, let’s go.
Commentary proper begins below.
As a black man, I feel like Stephen's article is missing something.
And not what you think it may be missing, either.
Having looked at these incidents dating all the way back to 2013, when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, a friend of mine who lived not far from that area, told me the rioters were all transplants.
How did they get there?
Such has been the case with almost all the other major cases. Most of the riots have been primarily instigated and escalated by people who are not a part of that community.
I mean, it's easy(ier) to tear up stuff that isn't yours, right? So, now on to the content of the original article.
The original article misses the mark on the element of sensationalism implanted into the stories that make the news, but that is really the bigger part of this discussion. I find the media disgusting. Much in the same vein that "Missing White Woman Syndrome" favors missing "young pretty white women" over all other demographics of missing folks (here is some commentary on that particular matter), the racial dynamic of a white cop killing a black man/woman is sexier to sell.
Granted there are some cases that are just egregious; like Amber Guyger/Botham Jean, but most of these were a white cop not understanding the dynamic, and overreacting. Does that make it okay? Absolutely not! They should be prosecuted!
But we come to two real issues here. even beyond racism:
(1) Policing is not policing anymore. As more and more entities are becoming centralized, militarized, and nationalized (like the National Guard supporting medical professionals in overburdened hospitals), law enforcement simply isn't the same anymore. It was never perfect, but I feel like one big solution to this would be requiring x% of cops in a given precinct live in that precinct. It's often harder to have those dynamics of "fear" and "overreaction" around things you know. Too many cops are from entirely different counties from where they work. Akin to the military going in a different country, it's easier to "do the job" when you're dealing with "foreigners". This applies irrespective of race. Guyger/Jean is obviously an outlier and I suspect there's more afoot there than ever made the public news.
(2) The media is trash. While I do feel like black people are killed at a higher per capita rate (which yes, completely dismisses at least part of the original argument), the media coverage isn't because they want equitable treatment of black people. It's because they know it's a hot button issue and will produce the most views and the most discussion. The motive is abject trash.
The real issue is the "us vs. them" dynamic. Racism has been used to purport this dynamic for over 400 years, when the Irish were separated from blacks in colonial America, when the elites didn't care about either, but knew if they galvanized, it was going to be an issue. And thus, chattel enslavement took off. The same rings true today. All in all, racism is a tool of division to have us fussing and fighting amongst ourselves while the real villains move freely in the societal shadows.
Still, I'd charge Stephen to be a bit more sympathetic to the per capita rate that things are killing black people. In not just police killing, but most forms of unnatural death, black people are disproportionately affected. Innate socioeconomic factors can't completely blanket all of those circumstances. Do some research, and I'd love to talk more about this soon. Whether it’s in your comment box, mine, or as we exchange stories in the intellectual marketplace.
The African-American male son of two cops