A New Response To An Old Problem In The Black Community (Part I)
It’s time to find new ways to respond to systemic racism, inequality, and injustice.
Another week, another shooting of an unarmed Black civilian sitting in their homes by a White police officer. Black people are distraught, afraid, tired, confused, and sick of going through this never-ending psychological abuse inflicted upon us by our state, local, and federal governments. We cry. We fuss. We ask for investigations that lead nowhere. We ask for justice that we rarely receive. We riot which yields no results except destroying our own communities. Some of us boycott for a short-time, and a lot of us vent on Twitter. But none of those things work to solve our community policing issues because the same thing continues to happen to us. We die because we’re Black.
When the color of our skin is seen as a weapon, they will never see us unarmed.
American policing is one of the Black community’s biggest threats. Our systems of policing and the federal government are linked in the same way America is married to racism. America hasn’t figured out how to divorce itself from the way it polices Black people and Black communities, and it hasn’t vested enough energy and resources into divorcing itself from systemic racism. Asking the government to do something about the police is like asking the government to do something about itself.
Money from your paychecks provides the federal government with funding for community policing programs. The federal government provides Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) to state and local jurisdictions for crime control and local law enforcement. The JAG Program provides states, tribes, and local governments with funding to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention, education, corrections and community corrections, and crime victim and witness initiatives and mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs. We all need to understand our local police get their monies from states and the federal government, so stop expecting them “to do something.” They can’t. Those eagles fly in the same unfriendly skies.
It’s like Black people asking the college with the biggest, best football team, who have won all the football games every year for the past 400 years to lose so the tiny college with good players but few resources can finally win.
Black Americans must find new, tangible ways to respond to our racially unjust systems. Black Americans must make White America, our political systems, and our government understand we are tired of being abused and suspected. We mean business. To get the things we want and deserve, we must understand what White America respects and what they respond to. Those things are:
- White rule, and
- Money (capitalism)
In order for the Black community to get the results we desire, we must learn how to fight the dragon with different tools. It’s a new day and we need to understand what we’ve been doing wrong so we can finally get this new movement right.
*Note: (Before you go any further, let me say in advance for those easily offended…not all White people.)
What’s Wrong With Current Responses
Current responses yield little fruit. In fact, many times when we respond to violations to our civil rights, things get worse for us. The government gets a little harsher (the abuser blaming the victim), or we end up with bunches of bad legislation with little/no neutral oversight to ensure the government does what it promised us it would do. For example, the police stop protecting us and our communities when we hold them accountable, or they continue over-policing us, but they implement new ways to circumvent the old policies. Our current responses are not winning strategies. In fact, a lot of what we display are reactions, not plans. Reactions are feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. We can’t continue to center our responses on reactions. We need plans.
Marching against injustice has its place, but it’s time for us to develop a new strategy to combat racial injustices and inequality/inequity. Clogging up highways and stopping traffic helps no one. Those types of traffic-stopping marches make poor people and Black people late for work, to the babysitter (where they collect late fees), results in getting people’s pay docked because they were late, and further angers the police who take their aggressions out on us in other ways. Marching is a waste of time when we are the only ones doing it. If every Black person in America would take off from work, roll to D.C. or the site of the injustice and take a stand, well that’s different. But if you’re in your local community and White people aren’t coming out to help, well you have problems. When White people don’t show up, their absence is saying something to Blacks and to the public. Their absence says our lives do not matter. March with a purpose, at the right time, in the right places, and make it count.
Stop Asking For Investigations
Asking the federal government to investigate civil rights violations and White Supremacy in our police departments is like asking the police to investigate itself. Stop, just stop please! Understand how the systems works and let’s work together to expose it. Read where the money comes from (above), and link it to violations to get that funding pulled. Do you care if the police aren’t funded at the current levels? I don’t. Especially if they will continue to over-police Black communities.
Instead of asking them to investigate themselves, let’s follow the money, strategize on how to get the best results, and sue the government for failing to protect us. We have a number of great Black legal professionals who can use their skills in the same way the ACLU does, and in a way the NAACP does not. Stop asking the violators to investigate their own violations. Blacks need to learn how to investigate our criminal justice and political systems and make them work for us. Let’s make Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) our friend. Think and act like investigative journalists.
Stop Sharing (and Watching) Videos of Our Violations
I understand we need to know what’s happening in the world, but our demise is being exploited by mainstream, White-owned media. Clicks equates to dollars, and videos of police shootings, racist attacks by White people, and Black violence make media outlets lots of money. If you watch the videos, you’re getting someone paid. If you share the video, you’re helping the media outlets allowing us to share/watch these videos get paid. The Black community is further violated, and they inundate many of us with traumatic videos that we can’t get out of our minds. The death of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, etc. are too much for the Black community to deal with in such a short time span.
What we need to realize that we are being used. We help spread violence, and we also help the police say they can’t get a fair trial because we’ve disseminated the video wide-spread across social media. It’s a perfect get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts. Stop. Sharing. Violent. Videos. Of. Black. Killings. And. Beatings.
Stop Including Blacks With People of Color
For Black people, there is something more sinister happening — we’re being erased and our history forgotten. Using the term People of Color (POC) to describe non-White people in America is racial erasure. Lumping us in with other ethnic groups dilutes Black issues. Whiteness likes to lump everything non-white together because it makes it easier for them to classify us and because they are the default. No other group really matters to America. The issues of Black people are unique. To add to the problem, sometimes, POC (i.e. Jews, Cubans) pass as White, choosing to engage in racism and White Supremacy instead of equality. Not all skin folk are kin folk! We must break ourselves out of the POC category to ensure our issues and concerns are properly addressed.
Stop Doing The Heavy Lifting For Whiteness
I’m all for helping White people understand how difficult they make for us collectively. What I’m done with is the hand holding and doing the work White people should do to make things better for us. It’s the equivalent of being physically, financially, and emotionally abused by your spouse or significant other, then telling them how to stop as if they don’t possess the brains or skills to stop doing it on their own. Our abuser(s) know right from wrong, and while they may not know all the nuanced and systemic ways their privilege and White Supremacy impacts us, they are intelligent enough to figure it out.
If we can research, so can they. Whiteness has dominated our education systems since they allowed us to be educated. They know what they teach us, and they know what they don’t teach themselves. It’s pastime for White people to take responsibility for our suffering and America’s inequality. They also need to fix it. There are enough good White allies and educators experienced in racism, White Privilege and White Supremacy (i.e. Time Wise) to help them work through their own issues and to help them tackle their own racism while addressing the needs of Black people. It’s time we redirect White people to White people to fix White people.
Stop Looking For Help
We don’t have many true White allies, not enough to bring about a change in policing and systemic racism. White folks seem to not be able to grasp how racist America is in its totality. White people will continue to sit by idly, gasping, and too shocked to do anything about their racist husbands, wives, sisters, partners children, neighbors and extended family members who hate us. Whites teach their children to be afraid of Blacks, even the so-called good White people. We cannot expect this system to help us. Everything is owned or run by Whiteness. Media, banking, technology, social media, public and private education, research, social justice, charitable sectors, management, food and drug industries, etc. We must develop our own help and work our way into the existing systems to bring about real change.
Until this happens, stop expecting White people to come to our aid. They aren’t going to. It’s been 400 years and counting, and we are still waiting for White people to address the same biases, systemic racism, inequity, and unfair/unequal policing practices. You’d come out better throwing your money in a wishing well and making a wish. Also, stop looking for a national response to local problems. The national Black Lives Matter Movement is a disjointed mouth piece for national issues. We have national spokespeople (i.e. Shaun King) who come on the scene reporting out wrong and incomplete info, collecting our money, and giving talking points that may or may not speak for your group/community/issues. Help may come, but help may come with motives. Outside help is fine when warranted, but cultivate strong help at home.
Stop Calling The Police For Everything
I’m sure I will get some push back on this one, but let me share my rationale. The national police (federal, state, and local) are overwhelming White, and the institution of policing is grounded in racism and anti-black biases. White America has an unshakeable confidence in police, meaning they can’t see any wrong in how we are policed because the police mostly look like them. Even if Whites see something wrong, they will not stick their necks out and risk being ostracized from the dominant group in their communities. They’ll tweet, and gasp at the news, but they won’t do much in the way of questioning how we are policed despite all the evidence showing it’s done terribly and with bias. They also have shown little interest in changing collectively, which means they see no problem with their behavior.
Most White people won’t admit they’ve been taught to fear Black people. Some have a reason to (i.e. bad experiences in school), while others were taught the regular old American stranger danger fairy tales and Black=bad/White=good. We need to understand most police departments do no assessing of biases, nor do they conduct testing to determine whether they are hiring a Klansman or the next sociopath. When we call these police, we are asking predominantly White, scary, and often biased White police officers to come into our homes and communities to protect us. Before they even come, understand they’ve been taught we’re bad criminals, we act and live like animals, and they should be afraid of us.
It’s a crap shoot when we call the police these days because we never really know how the interaction will end. It could end okay, or someone could die because a scared, trigger-happy cop answers the call. Think about whether you need to call the cops before calling them. Ask yourself are you putting your life or the life of a relative or neighbor in jeopardy? I’m not asking you to be in danger in your homes and in your communities. I’m asking you to consider who your police are, whether there are allegations of racism and implicit biases, and go about your community accordingly. If your community doesn’t have a Citizen Review Board to monitor police and allegations of misconduct, get one. Nothing changes a person’s behavior like spotlights and questions. No social justice groups interested in doing the work? Start one yourself.
After the recent shootings of model Black citizens Atatiana Jefferson and Bothan Jean, we cannot assume the person who’s coming to aid us isn’t afraid of us. Blacks must also consider White Supremacists have been blessed by the President of the United States to abuse and kill Blacks and People of Color, and he’s promised to protect them when they do. When citizens are killed by police, he’s silent. Some of those White men in blue are there for one purpose and one purpose only, and that’s harming non-White people. Take nothing for granted in the age of Trump and neoliberalism.
There are a lot of things we Black folks need to stop doing. I just listed a few of them. Please leave your suggestions below. Sharing is caring. There is room here for us all contribute. We must stop looking for one person to lead us. We’re all leaders, and we all need to work to make it safe for us to exist in America.
To learn about the things the Black community should do, please read my follow-up essay, “A New Response To An Old Problem In The Black Community (Part 2).”
© Marley K. All rights reserved.