Black Lives Matter.
Blue Lives Matter.
Black lives and Blue lives matter.
You don’t have to choose. but…
Racism is institutionalized in many police forces nationwide. We have seen the results time and time again. I am not a member of any police force. I do not know what the atmosphere is like in each department. I imagine they range from those striving for equality as a part of their daily policing lives, to those that are rotten to the core with open racism being accepted and trivialized.
The ‘luckiest’ black men are ‘only’ falsely detained. From there follows –bring charged – convicted – sentenced – executed… Oh – and murdered on the spot.
Black men are put in harm’s way by being black. They don’t put themselves in that position. Their skin color predetermines it from the moment of conception.
Policemen put themselves in harms way every day to protect us. It is a noble calling, for those who live by the principles we wish were held by them all.
However, Blue men need to be held accountable more than Black men. That is part of their responsibility. Policemen are human and fallible, yes. Yet, it is not a mere fallibility to murder a man by crushing his neck. A fallibility might be a mild prejudgment of someone based on their race. The realization that you are indeed wrong, and therefore examining the situation without such prejudice, is a valid and honorable attempt to correct it. Policemen are human and imperfect – like everyone else. Yet, because of the incongruity of power between the police and the civilian, they are duty-bound to analyze their thoughts and emotions.
There exists a psychological tenet: We cannot control our thoughts and emotions. We can control our behavior. We chose to do evil. Or we choose to do good. We may have harmful thoughts or emotions, but that doesn’t mean we must or will act on them. It is a choice. That is not to say, we hold no blame for ongoing harmful or “wrong” thoughts. We can and must examine and challenge our thoughts. If successful, even only partially successful, we are turning the tide. It is only through challenging them, that our thoughts might change, and in turn decrease the likelihood that our behavior will be less prejudice.
If this was a one-off – it would be a policeman’s unlawful killing of a citizen. A terrible event that would anger most. This, however, is not a one off. It is white policeman killing a black man. Again. And again. And again.
We all know what happened. We’ve seen the video. One by which I was so disturbed, I wanted to stop watching each second throughout. I needed to see it. Everyone needs to see it. The imbalance of power. The murder taking place in front of other policemen. George Floyd had no chance against Derek Chauvin.
Despite knowing he was being recorded, Derek Chauvin continued murdering George Floyd. What does that say? Was the former so sure that he was untouchable? Did he have such little regard for human life that he didn’t care? Did/Does he think of non-whites as less-than? Maybe we will never know. Such a person is not likely to tell.
It is awful to see any policeman hurt because of the actions of another. I hope no policemen are hurt during this unrest. I have no idea what the proportions are of peaceful protesters to violent ones. Just because some are burning and looting, this should not dilute the messages of others. There are those who say some form of violence is needed. We all have varying degrees of agreement/disagreement with this. How far is too far? How far is not far enough? I have no answers.
My mind turns to our black (and other non-white) policemen? How must they feel? Wait. I’m lumping them into one group. They have varying opinions and experiences just as anyone else. In and out of uniform they have surely experienced racism. ow does their work environment measure up? Are they treated differently than white officers? On an individual and an institutional level? How disparately is their treatment, in and out of uniform?
I will end with one of my favorite parables, and one of my favorite quotes:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
– Martin Niemöller
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.“
George Floyd R.I.P. May 25, 2020
Just as I am finishing up this post, I received an “Emergency Alert” on my phone:
And a FB post from the mayor of my city – Chicago. My thoughts are above the photo. They are sorely empty and insufficient.