We depended on myths to sustain our illusion of peace. The nightmare of violence these past few weeks woke us up, and forced all of us to face reality.
During the campaign Hillary Clinton stated, “We have to face up to the hard truth of injustice and systematic racism.” Conservatives immediately got to work to disprove the reality of white privilege. In a February 11, 2016 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, secular conservative Heather MacDonald stated, “…almost everything else that people know about police shootings is wrong.” She came to this conclusion based on emerging data which ‘proves’ systematic racism is a myth and less of a danger to blacks then they are to themselves.
Rudy Giuliani continued the discussion Sunday morning on Face the Nation by stating black fathers “must teach their children to be more respectful of the police…and not become involved with ‘bad’ influences in their neighborhoods.”
Not only do Giuliani and MacDonald’s opinions ignore the fact systematic racism exists in our country, but they further stigmatize and isolate blacks by stating they aren’t victims. Does Giuliani actually believe the source of the violence and prejudice against the black population is themselves? Victim blaming diminishes the voices of the people who are searching for long lasting and healthy solutions for their communities.
A diminished voice is a silenced voice. If we don’t take the time to listen, we rely on experts who draw their own conclusions using statistics instead of people. Numbers are skewed in these reports to ‘prove’ anybody’s claim. Reports and solutions based on statistics is the root of the myth of black-on-black crime.
This fairy tale has become the bedtime story which comforts us and helps us to sleep at night. We don’t have to worry about prejudice or think about our failing neighborhoods. We don’t have to face the economic policies, like the War on Drugs, which diverts much needed funds from mental health care or Head Start.
Black Lives Matter forced us to rip off our mask of hypocrisy. They have shown us it’s not enough to be against racism, we have to listen. They force us to listen to people, not statistics. They are asking; where the promised jobs, affordable housing, and the safe environments are? It is time for honest conversations because the bedtime story has turned into a nightmare. It’s time to wake up and face reality.
The reality of racism is not statistics, the reality is black men and boys are brutalized and killed. The police officers sent in to do an impossible job are brutalized and killed. They are all indispensable human beings, they are someone’s son, father, lover, child. They are not percentages. We can only wonder what the world would have been like if they were alive, because today, it is a sadder place without them in it.
Very soon, the funerals will be over. The flowers and candles from the shrines will be swept away. The protestors will go home. What will we do now? For one thing we stop expecting the police force to perform an impossible job. We expect them to clean up after the fallout of our economic failures, and then unfairly make them the scapegoats in our tradition of systemic prejudice. These failures silenced the black community and the police officers. They have been telling us all along what is needed, but their words were twisted. They asked for help, and what did they receive? Better social services and jobs for the community or safer infrastructures. No, they were given body cameras and military weapons.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown entered law enforcement “to become part of the solution”, and most officers feel the same way. When Chief Brown was asked about gun control, he refused to give his opinion. Instead, he begged the legislators to do their jobs. “We are doing ours…the other aspects of government must do theirs.”
Chief Brown is right-it’s time to stop blaming, get to work, and do our jobs. It will be messy. We will argue, we will learn to compromise, and the solution will be found. Together.