Sometimes perception clouds our ability to make rational judgments, but sometimes perception is reality as in the case of law enforcement. It is easy to find statistics on either side of the debate regarding the targeting, if not outright hunting down, of Black Males by the White law enforcement culture. But on the street there is little doubt, Black Males are not just victims of racism they are victims of violence.
Genocide is described as: ‘the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.’ Many recoil at the comparison of the treatment of Black Males in America to the genocide in countries like Rwanda where large groups of people were slaughtered simply for their ethnic group identification. It is a complex issue and hyperbole serves no purpose in bringing real justice and clarity to the tragedy.
But sometimes hard truths must be spoken so that at the very least we are not so sensitive to the feelings of the perpetrators that we end up further victimizing the innocent. White violence by those wearing a badge against Black Males is not new it is simply more easily documented with the use of video technology. What was perception is now fact. White law enforcement violence didn’t increase with the use of video; it is merely proven to be horrifyingly real.
One solution is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission like South Africa’s Unity Government that attempted to bring some closure to the horrific history of apartheid. Of course this in the American form can simply lead to paralysis by analysis. The Kerner Commission revealed many problems and solutions but at the end of the day led to little real change.
So, in my opinion, there is only one solution: A five year moratorium on issuing badges to Whites. Not all Blacks killed by White law enforcement officers but the culture of law enforcement in this country and the institutional focus is on Black crime. Sadly most law enforcement officers find themselves targeting Black Males as a result of institutionalized racism and generalized perceptions.
Maybe that simply makes them human. But we are seeing more and more evidence that this makes these particular humans dangerous. A menace to society. So is it possible to engage the community in an active effort to correct the law enforcement culture by refusing entry to those who are, fairly or unfairly, predictably racist? Certainly in towns like Ferguson, Missouri the percentage of Black residents compared to the percentage of Black law enforcement officers is out of balance. This is un-American. We can do better. Whites shut out of a career in law enforcement can find other avenues for their rage. But for now let’s focus on rising up and raising up the level of community empathy and professionalism our law enforcement agencies need. Until we reach parity and the killing stops, no more badges for Whites. It’s worth a try. After all genocide by any other name is still draining our communities of the very young black males that we need to create a just society.