My blog post today is literally about one thing and one thing only. There’s nothing else besides this I want to address and I want it to be very clear that there is only one point I’m wanting to make.
I’ve seen a number of good people post things since our latest wave of police violence against people of color that – in a nutshell – says that when you run away from the police, you should be prepared to die.
Because if you don’t comply with law enforcement, you deserve whatever happens to you.
Here is the one thing I would like to say to that.
I understand what you think it is you’re saying. I understand that when someone runs from law enforcement, the natural and logical assumption by those police and/or other enforcement personnel is that you’ve done something wrong and that they better catch your ass quick.
I really do understand that.
Aside from actually knowing good, honest people in uniform, I also just get how A + B = C.
This is the perspective I would like to share with you, though. And I’m hoping that because you’re logical and caring people that you’ll give my point of view a chance before dismissing it outright.
People of color have been discriminated against a lot. Flamingly violent racists aside, we can agree on that I think. And in addition to that discrimination being your general institutional and establishment racism (racism based on policy and practice), it has also come in the form of violence.
A lot of violence.
And it’s uncomfortable but I think we really need to face that right now.
People of color have had violence practiced upon them solely for their race for hundreds of years. In order to bring them to this country, we chained them. We chained them to boats. We chained them to each other. We put men and women who weren’t criminals in chains and then forced them to do our work for us.
Those people were beaten on a daily basis, perhaps even an hourly basis. Because of their skin. They were whipped. Because of their skin. They were raped. A lot. Because of their skin. They were tortured. Because of their skin.
People of color have been hanged. Because of their skin. They’ve been lynched because of their skin. They’ve been set on fire. Because of their skin. They’ve been beheaded. Because of their skin. They’ve been drawn and quartered. Because of their skin. They’ve been tied to car bumpers and dragged, the modern day drawing and quartering. Because of their skin.
People of color have been stabbed because of their skin. People of color have been shot because of their skin. People of color have been brutalized because of their skin.
At a rate so astoundingly high that it should silence the voices of anyone that would like to imply that people of all races have had these problems.
And the thing is, law enforcement has not been innocent of these crimes. Not when slavery first took hold, not when segregation was being challenged and not now. I am in no way saying that every law enforcement officer is guilty. Not at all. No way and no how.
But some are a problem.
Some have always been a problem.
And we, as white people, have not done enough historically and currently to eradicate these demons from our bevy of protectors. I’m sorry but we just haven’t. We get too defensive when the topic is brought up, letting our guilt take over and allowing us to continue on practicing in a racist world.
And now, because of it, we’re at the motherfucking crossroads of all crossroads. Cause this is where we’ve ended up (and this here is my blog point):
When people of color see a law enforcement official with a gun in their hands, at their hip or even just in their holster, it is just like seeing anyone else off the street in possession of a gun. And, be honest, if someone you don’t know approaches you with a weapon, you’re going to be beyond uneasy. If they look like they mean business with that weapon when they call for your attention, that weapon starts to look bigger and bigger and badder and badder.
We need to understand that in a lot of cases people of color are operating their daily lives with a severe case PTSD. Their entire history as a people, since the white man came into their lives, has been traumatic. Every step to reclaiming their freedom has been traumatic. And their “free” existence now continues to be traumatic.
We cannot expect them to look at the world with the same eyes we do, for we have not been through the same things. Yes, some Caucasian people do not feel safe around police and other paid protectors, the same way that some people of color have been raised in an environment that sees them as people before seeing them as a demographic and therefore see the police as the good guys most of them are.
But neither of these is the norm.
And we need to understand that.
We need to understand that there is a long history of violence that leads us to the fears that still linger today. When we have a friend or loved one that’s a victim of abuse, we understand that people that remind them of their abuser can cause them to feel excruciating fear and have a desperate need to get away to safety. And we need to start looking at our current situation this way. We need to start understanding that people in uniform have one connotation for some people while having an entirely different connotation for others and these connotations are crucial to our ability to function as a civilized society.
I’m very aware that there are situations that fall out of these parameters (like the fact that it seems we have people of color complying and still being killed) but, as I said earlier, I wanted to focus my blog on this one very specific topic.
We say if people run from the police, they deserve whatever they get. But we forget that it’s really not that simple.
And we need to really work together as a country to stop this violence now before it grows even further. Before the United States becomes bedlam and we lose more good people and good law enforcement. Because, here’s the thing…
Police officers and others in uniform are beginning to feel like they’re being judged for the clothes they have on and not for who they actually are.
They’re starting to feel like people see them coming and automatically make negative judgements about them.
Police officers are even more afraid for their lives than normal because they think someone might shoot them either out of fear, anger or just because.
Police officers are starting to feel like people of color.
And when people who are required to carry and be skilled at using weaponry start feeling like they’re backed into a corner, our country will be the bloodied victim. And we will have no one but ourselves to blame.