I have been thinking a great deal about recent events and while I generally don’t post on Facebook, I felt compelled put out there what I’ve been thinking about. Let me start with, while I can’t say I’m friends with any policemen, I have known them through friends of friends and members of the family. With every encounter I have had with them I found them to professional, kind and caring. In fact, I attended a BLM rally after the death of George Floyd and after some things that were said about the police, I sought one out and thank him for the job he was doing.
That being said, I do believe there are racist police officers. In a very early TV episode of Dragnet, after they had arrested a corrupt officer, a reporter asked Sgt. Friday how there could be corrupt police. He answered, “Because we have to recruit from the human race.” I believe we are a racist society. We are a racist society that produces racist police, racist doctors, lawyers, priests and even racist Ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
I believe we are a racist society not because of what I see and read in the media, but because the all too real stories I have heard from friends and family. I have listened to the stories of black friends and the way they have been treated. I believe them 100%. I completely believe the fear in their voice, particularly when it comes to their children. I hear the weariness in the voices because of constantly having to deal with racism. Because of the composition of my family I am more in tune with stories in the Asian community. It has been very difficult for me to hear the stories how they are treated (here in Appleton). I believe them 100%. Over the last week we have heard some say there is no racism in America. That is a complete and total lie.
Police officers hold a very unique place in our society. They are the only group in our society that we have given permission to preform violence on us. We have given them this permission in return for the belief it will make us safer. As a society we need to decide what level of violence we can tolerate. In my opinion, the recent deaths George Floyd and Jacob Blake are examples of taking that permission of violence too far. Last month I visited George Floyd Memorial Square. I was a gut punch to read the list of people of color that have been killed. Do the police officers who committed these acts of violence need to be held accountable? Yes! Does the cities of Minneapolis and Kenosha and other levels of government need to be held responsible? Yes! Do I need to be held responsible, because I haven’t done enough? To this I must painfully answer, Yes!
What should we be doing? I friend recently asked me that question and I didn’t have a good answer, but this is what I have thought of since. 1) A black friend sent me a link to an article she sends to white friends that want to know what to do – read it/do it – https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies, 2) Listen to people’s stories. Listen to them honestly and with an open heart. Then (I learned this from the book How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi) don’t project that one story to a diverse group of people. When you have heard one person’s story, that’s all you have heard one story. I’m proud that this country has produced such men as Ben Carson and Tim Scott. They have inspirational personal stories, but don’t project those stories to a large group of people any more than you would project the actions of one looter to a large group of people. 3) Educate yourself. Right now there are some great books out there to read. I mentioned Kendi’s. There is also White Fragility Robin Diangelo, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates or Waking Up White by Debby Irving to get you started.
Sorry about the length, but it is what I have been thinking about.