And lots of reasons not to. It isn’t a recent phenomenon that started with white officers killing black men in Ferguson, Staten Island or Cleveland: it goes back to the days of slavery, when the authorities enforced the laws by catching escaped slaves and forcibly returing them to the slave owners. It continued through the post-Civil-War era as police were used to enforce Jim Crow laws that kept people of color (POC) in another set of “chains”.
And did the Civil Rights laws of the 60’s fix things? Oh, Hell no. The cops were used to “keep order” among the minority population and protect the white folks from said minorities. Once again, the cops were and are the visible face of oppression, and the means used to oppress the non-white people of America.
Asians are likewise POC, and they deal with a lot of crap from cops as well: immigration, profiling, harassment, civil rights violations, etc. You think anybody in their communities have forgotten the World War Two internment camps? Here’s a hint, boyo: they haven’t. And who put them into the camps? Armed people in uniforms put them in those camps. Cops (and soldiers, in that case).
How about Latinos? POC they are as well, and they have likewise dealt with a history of abuse and marginalization. And yes, once again the cops were the instrument of that extra-constitutional mistreatment.
It didn’t start with Michael Brown, or even John Brown. It won’t end with a single grand jury indictment, or even several indictments. As the Prexy has said, the system can’t function if POC don’t trust that justice will be delivered in an impartial manner.
Speaking as a (formerly long-haired) hippie freak, this writer doesn’t place blind trust in the cops or those for whom they work. Comes from having been harassed, profiled, roughed up, shaken down, and driven to city boundaries with guns enforcing the officers’ orders to “Git, and never come back” on more than one occasion. Being “othered” while looking at the wrong end of a gun makes an indelible impression on a person.
But you know what made the Cranky life a lot easier? Baldness. Cops can no longer discern my political views by a glance. Indeed, a somewhat portly middle-aged white man is rarely targeted by the cops. But…
Black people can’t wash off their pigment. Nor can other people of color. They can never, ever be free of the institutionalized violence and abuse that is routinely heaped upon minorities. Their skin color makes them a target. They know it. Cops know it.
When everybody knows the system is rigged, nobody can believe in the system. We are living in a crumbling edifice, built upon a history of xenophobia and racist hatred. Unless we all get together and build a foundation that truly aligns with the notion that we are created equal, the whole American experiment will fall apart, ending in blood and ashes.
Trust is needed. Right now POC don’t trust the system. And lots of white people are deciding we don’t trust it either. Police of America, it’s time to decide who you work for, and to earn back the trust we need you to deserve.
Mr. Blunt and Cranky