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Killing Police Officers

What we're seeing now is a devolving situation. Over and over, police officers shoot and kill black citizens. They don't even face charges, which means they don't even go to court to answer to their actions. Everything continues as it was. Frustration builds with every death and with every systematic choice to ignore the facts, to gloss over the situation, to criminalize the dead. Soon, some want to resort to creating their own justice. And you get Dallas.

We are in a very volatile and dangerous moment in American History. We are at a crossroads.

There is no justifying killing someone under the conditions we are witnessing. This is especially true of police officers who receive hours of training and learning proper protocols for situations they face on the job. When you have the training and the know-how and the understanding of your role, you need to enact it properly.

The tragedy in Dallas, a city I was just visiting a month ago, goes to all of the problems we are seeing with the country as a whole. When the system isn't working for you, make a new system. When you as a human are not valued, you have nothing left to lose.

Of course, killing random police officers only makes everything worse. Those that were patrolling the protests in Dallas were likely the best cops, those that care about what they see and are trying to make a difference. The cowardly cops that shoot and kill citizens that they stop likely would never take that assignment, so this only makes it that much worse.

But it's easy to see how this schoolyard shoving match with bullets is turning our country back into the Wild West.

Killing police officers is literally giving ammunition to the side that wants to characterize black people as animals. This, despite the fact that the situation leaves very few options for recourse. Still, the idea that Martin Luther King put forth does apply here. We all can't act with violence.

It seems as though every day something horrifying is happening. This is all due, in my opinion, because we have still not talked about race as an issue in America.

Police officers, protesters, people at traffic stops, we are all human beings. None of us is better or worse for who we are. But saying that all humans are the same and actually believing it and acting it clearly is not happening.

It feels a bit like a civil war is happening. That's all to do with not having a discussion about these issues. And putting that discussion off again will only continue the Status Quo.

We have to start talking about this issue. But how can we begin?

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
greatljname
Jul. 8th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
We can begin by actually prosecuting and convicting police officers who murder black people. We can begin by no longer teaching respectability politics. We can begin by telling white people that they need to stop perpetuating the racism that contributes to black women and men being murdered and then blamed for it.
penpusher
Jul. 8th, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC)
As usual, you are absolutely right.

The problem, as I stated in my essay on racism being an addiction: the "addicts" rarely, if ever, listen to the complaints from those they are victimizing as a reason to stop their behavior. It's why the #BlackLivesMatter movement has not gained much traction outside of the minority community.

You see this point at work frequently in domestic abuse cases, which, arguably, this is. It's a power game, it's a method of control, fear, punishment, destruction.

There are two questions that will be asked by white society when it comes to this: "why should I care?" If you are white, and living in an enclave where you deal rarely, if ever, with minority people, this issue is of no import. How do we help people like that see that it is?

And the other question: "what's in it for me?" Most white people think that "giving away" some of their "power" will only serve to make them "less than they were," and on that point alone, there is tremendous resistance to even discussing it, much less enacting some kind of plan to reduce or prevent these actions.

The discussion of race in America is extremely complicated and the people that most need to be a part of this conversation are likely the ones who will be most difficult to get to the table... This is where I have problems understanding how to open this up to the entirety of our population.

stacymckenna
Jul. 9th, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)

Getting racists to the table is the step that makes me feel helpless. I don't tend to hang out with, and thus have status or influence with, blatant racists. (I don't claim to not be racist personally, I am a product of my environment, but I am at least working on recognizing the systemic patterns I unconsciously fall into.) And as pointed out, I am in the majority that spends very little time calling it out - because where would my voice make a difference?


At best I got a cousin to recently rethink his stance on Syrian refugees. Did it actively help ameliorate or alter involved racist beliefs or thought patterns? I have no idea - our conversation focused on screening policies and the need to show compassion to fellow humans.


I strive to influence my son toward nonracist thought and action whenever possible. It is perhaps where I have the most influence, but it is absolutely the long game, not quick.


But how do I influence the kinds of people who would gun down someone for the color of their skin or uniform? Or those who then aid in covering up or even applauding it? "Those people" seem entirely foreign to me - I don't even know who they are much less how to speak to them in a way that would make a difference.

penpusher
Jul. 9th, 2016 04:27 pm (UTC)
There is only one way I can think of to reach racists: a zero tolerance policy. But I would have no idea how to enforce it.

Clearly, the reason racism hasn't ebbed away in 150 years is that parents are obviously teaching their children to be racist. This may not be an "active" practice, as in instructing them that black people are bad. But it could certainly be a passive one, where an under the breath comment about a waitress, a snide comment about a classmate, or criticism about music or film star could be heard by their kids.

Ultimately it's a discussion that needs to take place. There are people who will never believe the truth (we still have "The Flat Earth Society," after all), but if all sources support the facts, maybe things can start moving in the right direction.
stacymckenna
Jul. 9th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC)
Crap, that anonymous comment was me. Stupid phone interface. Sorry!
ravenfeather
Jul. 8th, 2016 04:04 pm (UTC)
I think it has to begin with cooler emotions. There is too much anger, too much raw in those that are willing to talk at this point for everyone to listen. Like it or not, the tone of the message/messenger matters. You can have the most reasoned, balanced, logical, RIGHT message in the world, (example: PETA) but if the delivery is "charged" then there are some in this world that are going to react defensively instead of thoughtfully. In many cases it is the problem people who react that way, the very people who need to be reached.

I disagree with this statement on several points: "what's in it for me?" Most white people think that "giving away" some of their "power" will only serve to make them "less than they were,"

Categorizing most or all of any one group of people as the same as one aspect of some people of that group is discrimination. Of ANY group. Period. Stereotyping IS the base of the problem, and based on stereotypes, one SIDE takes action against another SIDE.

That leads to another problem, if you can reduce an issue to war, something that may be in our DNA, then there can never really be a resolution. Them VS us is a known place or system for humans to occupy. Two sides only provides a target to fight against. This is why a true gov't. democracy cannot exist in a two party system. It will always be about fighting THEM instead of resolution and change.

This is an issue of racism, NOT an issue of black vs white. Speaking as a person of neither group, perhaps it is easier for me to focus on that fact, or maybe I am elevating its importance, I am not sure. But there are other groups, some of them races that face discrimination. As long as we keep sidestepping the issue, the PROBLEM by shifting the focus from racism as a whole, to one side against the other, we can never solve the real problem.

Yes, people of any race who murder another person of any race need to be held accountable by law. That has NOTHING to do with black or white, it is a problem in and of itself, and a part of the racism issue, but it is not the entire answer. Yes, people of all races and genders and sexuality need to be treated and paid the same as all others, and again, that is another issue, that is a part of the problem. Throwing money, or benefits, or favor to atone for the past puts a bandaid on the wrong part. It is another smoke screen that shifts the focus away from the actual problem.

We are not addressing the problem, which is the MINDSET of racism, that someone who is different from us in heritage, skin color, country of origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other census tick is somehow less than us, something to be feared, or contained in some way. The way we think, and speak or express the issue matters.

Edited at 2016-07-08 04:08 pm (UTC)
penpusher
Jul. 8th, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC)
"I think it has to begin with cooler emotions. There is too much anger, too much raw in those that are willing to talk at this point for everyone to listen. Like it or not, the tone of the message/messenger matters. You can have the most reasoned, balanced, logical, RIGHT message in the world, (example: PETA) but if the delivery is "charged" then there are some in this world that are going to react defensively instead of thoughtfully. In many cases it is the problem people who react that way, the very people who need to be reached."

This is why I say the conversation about race in America should have occurred after the Emancipation Proclamation or, at the very least, after the Civil Rights Act passed into law. The laws changed at those points, but the understanding of why the changes were needed never were talked about in a way that allowed people to fully comprehend it. And, as a result, people took their emotional values of the situation and allowed that to stand, rather than changing their minds as we changed our policies. That's far worse than a "missed opportunity." That is a total misunderstanding.

I disagree with this statement on several points: "what's in it for me?" Most white people think that "giving away" some of their "power" will only serve to make them "less than they were,"

Categorizing most or all of any one group of people as the same as one aspect of some people of that group is discrimination. Of ANY group. Period. Stereotyping IS the base of the problem, and based on stereotypes, one SIDE takes action against another SIDE.


The problem, and here's why the statement is valid in its way: Either you are fighting for what is right or you are not. And, let's face it, if enough white people had been standing up on behalf of their fellow black American citizens (as opposed to doing nothing when one of their white friends or relatives made a racist joke or told a racist story or recounted a racist comment they made, and on and on) this might have ended already. It's within the complacent nature of people who do nothing in that circumstance that we get to where we are now.

Here's the story, Raven. Anyone who doesn't constantly point out and fight against racism (and let's face it, that is MOST white people) the criticism is valid. This relates back to the "why should I care" point though. This isn't a "white person's issue." As such, the majority of white people aren't going to take time and energy to fight it. They have their own problems to deal with on a day to day basis, and that's perfectly understandable. But, that's another part of the issue that we will have to examine if we ever have that discussion of race in America.

"Most" clearly is not ALL. But it is more than fifty percent. If you didn't know this, I'm sorry to have to share this info with you, but the majority of white people see most black people as something different from themselves - even the "well meaning" or "open minded" ones can have that concept, which is why this is such a complicated conversation. It's through that thinking that you get all of the problems we are seeing in this country, related to race, and some of the ones related to poverty.

Let me ask you this: are you aware, at any time, of a white person calling out another white person for their racism when no minority people were present? This is what I'm suggesting. Has it ever happened? I'd say, maybe it has. But I'd also say that MOST of the time, it doesn't. That is a part of this discussion.

If you know what is right and wrong, and you don't correct those that are doing wrong, you are a part of the problem. Unfortunately, that is MOST white people, as good or as kind or as non-racist as they believe themselves to be. Because it takes white people to be critical of other white people's racism directly for the criticism to stick, and MOST of the time, that simply doesn't happen. (more)
ravenfeather
Jul. 8th, 2016 10:02 pm (UTC)
Let me ask you this: are you aware, at any time, of a white person calling out another white person for their racism when no minority people were present?

Unfortunately I can't. I am always the minority in the room.

And, let's face it, if enough white people had been standing up on behalf of their fellow black American citizens (as opposed to doing nothing when one of their white friends or relatives made a racist joke or told a racist story or recounted a racist comment they made, and on and on) this might have ended already.

What about non whites making racist comments and jokes? Does the same apply?

If you know what is right and wrong, and you don't correct those that are doing wrong, you are a part of the problem.

I agree.

Unfortunately, that is MOST white people, as good or as kind or as non-racist as they believe themselves to be.

I disagree, I think race is an assumed causality here, when it may be a... combination of race and other things. I think certain GROUPS of white people may fall into that category, based on things like socioeconomics, religion, geography etc. There are certainly pockets of hatred (where hatred is surrounded and encouraged by other hatred) that DO conform to that statement, but I don't think any one race or group has the... "top honors".

Is war in our DNA? I guess defending ourselves is.

I think it may have started there, and it confuses me that we as a society seem to need an adversary, and I think society as it stands now might be the problem. But as soon as I typed that, the racists societies of other countries that have a different definition, or manifestation of society pops into my mind, so I really don't know why, but it seems that war is an inherent part of the human condition. No mater where those humans are.

I think I can see a big difference in how you and I are viewing "the problem" however. I think (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) you are viewing the problem as racism, and additionally are viewing "the problem" from the stance of "the" targeted race. That last part is understandable btw. While I am viewing "the problem" as bigotry against many groups. I think that to start the conversation you can't begin with targeting any one group as the bad guy, not if you really want a discussion to begin. That just puts that group on the defensive.

I could go on, but I think I may have the same problem you had with too many words in one box...
penpusher
Jul. 8th, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC)
I thought you might have at least heard of a case, not something you experienced empirically, when it comes to white people defending minorities to other whites when no minorities were present.

As I stated, the term "racism" hasn't properly been defined. This is a part of the problem when it comes to our mythical discussion. I don't want to go into another essay here but suffice it to say that someone who has "hurt feelings" about an insult (primarily because they are a part of a group that is oppressing the speaker) is a different circumstance than someone who is encouraging a stereotype of all people of a race which helps to perpetuate someone's poverty, or someone creating a circumstance where they might be feared, reviled or killed.

This really is a complicated discussion. I can't emphasize that enough. And let's be clear, the people who want to be the most vocal on the white side of the discussion are going to be the ones who are the most incorrect about everything, which will only complicate things that much more.

Us v. Them makes life simple. Taking a glance at a person and "knowing" if they are good or bad makes life simple. All of this is for the simplicity of life for white people in America. Of course, it really creates a society where justice is not done, where innocent people are guilty and where life is hell.

Let me try to make this a little clearer for you. I am not "targeting" a group of people. I'm targeting racism. If white people stopped being racist, I would not be talking about this. So, no. That isn't how I see it at all.

However, it just happens that the United States is a white supremacist nation, so white people are, basically, in charge of everything. That means they have to answer for all of the good and all of the bad that happens. It's like doing the crime, getting arrested and sentenced and then not doing the jail time. It's just sitting there, waiting. And the longer the wait, the more death there will be.
ravenfeather
Jul. 8th, 2016 11:56 pm (UTC)
DADGUMMIT, I have lost my comment box twice. I am working on this, but will have to type it outside of lj and post it quickly I guess.

ravenfeather
Jul. 9th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
Ok, let me start again. I agree with just about everything you have said here, but not the WAY it is said, if a discussion is the goal. We don't need to start another fight, we have enough already.

I can never know what it is like to grow up as a black person in THIS COUNTRY (that is yes, a white driven society). Just like I can never know what it is like to grow up as an Asian, or an illegal alien, or a disenfranchised native locked on a reservation. I can never know what it is like to grow up with money privilege, or in a family with non abusive parents. I am not any of those things. That is across the board correct for any person, we KNOW what we are familiar with. I think we have to acknowledge that point. And I also think we have to acknowledge that some people try harder to understand and have empathy with those outside of their own identified groups that are targeted by bigotry, but that the powers that be are not going to be those that try to understand, or even will acknowledge that there is a problem. It is those people a discussion needs to … include, and the way to include them can be complicated.

What we collectively or you as a group, or we as a nation are doing currently to address the problem is not working. I think everyone agrees with that. Personally, along with cooler emotions, I think this discussion needs to also focus on CURRENT relevance. You said earlier

We can open the discussion of racism up to white and any other minority. But it must start with black americans because they were the ones brought here as slaves then left to fend for themselves in a country that despised them for no longer doing what they were told, for no longer being their property. That is a uniquely different circumstance from every other minority group in this country, and really informs every other minority group interaction.

I agree with you that blacks are in a uniquely different circumstance from every other minority, but as a non black you “lost” me with the slavery fact. I am not saying it isn't true, but there are more relevant facts that prove that point. The escalated violence against black men is here and now, and is something that needs to change. The percentage of blacks in prison, or the percentage of blacks living in poverty all make the case now, and now is what we need to work to change, not then.

I don't know if you have seen this blog, but he makes some other valid points, and if you have time, he chimes in on some of the comments as well.

https://thsppl.com/i-racist-538512462265#.wkadzsuck

I won't repeat some of his points, but they are important I think.

It's just sitting there, waiting. And the longer the wait, the more death there will be.

The violence is coming from multiple angles, and from some of them it is because people don't believe they are being heard, that they have a voice, or a part in the discussion, so they are taking matters in their own hands and some are using violence to be heard. Anarchy can be a flash point for change, but it does not accomplish change. For that reason, we need to be aware of, and try to include everyone in the discussion, and try to avoid incitement in language or ideas. And we need to do it quickly. My opinion anyway.

penpusher
Jul. 9th, 2016 01:13 am (UTC)
Have you heard of the phrase "tone policing?" What it means is that you reject the message of what is being said, not because of the content but because of the delivery.

Imagine a man is hit by a speeding ambulance. The paramedic gets out and sees the man screaming and crying in the street with a broken leg.

Man: You hit me! Help!

Paramedic: You know I could help you, but I don't like all of that yelling and those tears. So, I'll just wait until you stop all of that and then I'll help you out.

That is clearly not a reasonable response. But that's basically your complaint.

You don't need to be a member of a particular minority group to recognize when people are being just, fair, and equitable or if they are doing things to benefit themselves. You just need to observe.

It's also relevant that you bring up the percentage of black men in prison, as that is the modern form of slavery. Yes, the fourteenth amendment outlawed slavery, except in the case of incarceration. There. You just learned how slavery is still current in today's society.

No one is excluding anyone from this conversation. However, we can't make it "nice" and "fun" for people. There is no way to do that, which is, I suppose, why it has been avoided all these centuries.

ETA: I see the link you provided talks about tone policing. So, there ya go.

Edited at 2016-07-09 02:01 am (UTC)
ravenfeather
Jul. 9th, 2016 02:02 am (UTC)
I had not heard the term tone policing, but yes, that is what I am talking about, and no, it is not "right" but it is a thing. To ignore it does not advance the cause of the discussion.

There. You just learned how slavery is still current in today's society.

Really Dean?
penpusher
Jul. 9th, 2016 04:31 pm (UTC)
I went back and looked that the comment you singled out as a problem, and I have to defend it on its own merits.

This isn't a "white" element, btw. Anyone who would have to relinquish power to someone else will likely feel the same way about it. Or at least most would... which is what I said. MOST.

It's not like being a president, when you know you only have power for several years and you know you will be giving it up at the end of that time. This is thinking this is how reality is, and suddenly, you have to change.

Clearly, this is part of the discussion of race in America, and one that needs to be examined with great care.
ravenfeather
Jul. 9th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
I think this comment stream between us represents a small portion of the difficulty of this discussion.
penpusher
Jul. 8th, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC)
Look. Racism could have ended at any point between the Emancipation Proclamation and the moment you are reading this sentence. It's just a matter of changing the behavior, accepting that we are all humans and judging people based on what they do, not how they look. The fact that it has not tells me that either people don't want to end it or that people are complacent about it. Add up the members of those two groups. That equals MOST white people. After all, if most white people wanted racism to end, it surely would have happened by now.

That leads to another problem, if you can reduce an issue to war, something that may be in our DNA, then there can never really be a resolution. Them VS us is a known place or system for humans to occupy. Two sides only provides a target to fight against. This is why a true gov't. democracy cannot exist in a two party system. It will always be about fighting THEM instead of resolution and change.

Is war in our DNA? I guess defending ourselves is. We want to continue to live, so we will do what it takes to allow that to happen. The problem is that when we start seeing our fellow humans as adversaries, you get what you get now, and it does become war.

But again, this was a created situation that is based on how people decided to interpret it.

There are many things to discuss in our wide-ranging conversation about race in America... this would be one of them.

We can open the discussion of racism up to white and any other minority. But it must start with black americans because they were the ones brought here as slaves then left to fend for themselves in a country that despised them for no longer doing what they were told, for no longer being their property. That is a uniquely different circumstance from every other minority group in this country, and really informs every other minority group interaction.

Like I said, this isn't easy, or straightforward, and it's not going to be "comfortable." But, just like breaking a leg that wasn't set right so it can heal properly, this discussion of race in America must happen or else we will all be limping our way to our graves.
davesmusictank
Jul. 8th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
This is just so bad.Justice needs to be seen and dine,
penpusher
Jul. 8th, 2016 10:39 pm (UTC)
Will there be justice? Can there be? While I hope so, I admit I don't know.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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