In my lifetime I have killed hundreds of roaches. It never bothered me. Those critters are beneath me so I never saw a problem with killing them or felt that I should face consequences when I did so. This is precisely what is happening with the Walter Scott case today. Walter Scott was killed by a policeman who fired eight shots at him as he was running away from the officer. It was all caught on camera. Still, the jury will not convict the murderer–who is White–because it bothers the hell out of some people to think that the life of a Black man is on par with a White man. To the White supremacist, killing a roach and killing a “nigger” are not too far different. That is what this trial is about.
Last week the Justice Department announced plans to phase out its use of privately run prisons and we cheered. Private prisons, after all, are the devil. The industry profits from incarcerating people; that profit motive has led the industry to lobby state legislatures to pass laws that keep prison beds full–disproportionately with black and brown people. But the real issue isn’t private prisons. Mass incarceration would not end if they disappeared, nor would black and brown communities be made whole. The real issue is that black and brown people are unnecessary in the eyes of corporate America. The economy of today is getting along just fine without the incarcerated and until that changes mass incarceration will remain a viable option, with or without private prisons.
18-year-old Paul O’Neal was shot in the back and killed while fleeing from police in Chicago recently– yes, shot in the back while running away. Chicago police have released video of the incident but conveniently, that little part of the actual shooting isn’t available because the camera belonging to the officer who fired the shot was off. All too often the cameras are off or “malfunctioning” during these critical moments and yes, we think it’s intentional. Every. Single. Time. Last year in Oklahoma a cop was was caught on a body camera saying to his colleagues, “turn it off” before they commenced beating a suspect who stole from a Dollar General. Yes, Dollar General. We believe every instance is just as shady. Why wouldn’t we? Our history with law enforcement leaves us no other choice.
At the core of the nation’s struggle between law enforcement and police reform is the issue of race. The issue is largely black and white, quite literally. With each police shooting race flares; routinely the broad cry of “racial reconciliation” surfaces in some form as a solution to the specific problem of policing. But the rift between black communities and law enforcement cannot be solved in that way. Racial reconciliation between blacks and whites–including largely white power structures like law enforcement– in America is simply not possible and time wasted. To “reconcile” means to make friendly again. Reconciliation requires us to have been friends, have a falling out and then get back together. In the American context, when were blacks and whites ever friends? If we are to make progress on the issue of race and ultimately police reform, we must scrap the quest for reconciliation and chart a completely new course.
I binge watched the new “O.J.: Made in America” documentary and there is but one conclusion: “White America” blew the O.J. trial. More than anything, the trial confronted the nation on race. It gave us an opportunity to understand what we’d become as a country and a unique chance to chart a new course. White America blew it in both respects. What we’d become was a nation filled with grievances after centuries of ignored cries for justice. Those untreated wounds for the darker half of America had festered into thoughts of vengeance; so much so that one juror admitted her vote was “payback” for the Rodney King verdict.
I hope you aren’t raped or shot today. There’s a good chance the police won’t have your back. Fifty years ago there was a likelihood of over 90 percent that a murder would lead to an arrest and despite tremendous advances in technology, today there’s a one in three chance that your case will go unsolved (and much worse in communities of color). The police are no better at solving rapes than in the 1970’s: there’s only a 24 percent chance that an arrest will be made. We spend more than $100 billion annually on police and this is the return. More alarming, in the month of March 2015, American police killed more citizens than police in the UK have since 1900. Cops aren’t solving crimes and making us safe but they are chasing nonsense and doing plenty of shooting. This is what the War on Drugs has wrought.
Forty-three percent of the country believes discrimination against whites is as large a problem as discrimination against blacks. This is likely the same crowd incapable of discerning “white privilege.” White privilege is the freedom to f#*k up and still be seen as human. It is manifested when a sitting president can devise public policy to “criminalize” and “disrupt those communities” of blacks, have your aide admit to it years later
Tamir Rice and LaQuan McDonald were both unarmed and killed by police. The top prosecutors in Cleveland and Chicago were both voted out of office, largely due to the way they handled those two cases. Many are calling this a victory for the Black Lives Matter movement but in reality, I’m not sure the movement can ultimately win. The system is just way too complicated, by design.
Megyn Kelly of Fox News recently demanded Cornel West explain why #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t protest “black on black” violence. After all, far more blacks kill each other than police do. Megyn is not alone. Many others, including several black “leaders” have raised the same battle cry. The real issue is not police violence but that Negroes are simply pathological killers, determined to do harm to each other…right?
I’m honestly torn. People always tell me how horrible the criminal justice system is and that we should make reforming it our first priority but I’m just not sure. The U.S imprisons more of its citizens than any other country. We have 2.4 million behind bars. China has four times more people than the U.S, but only 1.6 million prisoners. Of course, black men make up an ungodly amount of that population- around 35%. Blacks collectively comprise about 40%of total inmate population. This is especially troubling when put into a historical perspective.