Racial tensions in America are only going to go from bad to worse.
Racial divide is especially moving toward being more problematic in police-citizen relationships. How bad is It? Well, you tell me.
There is racial bias in America. That is a fact. But why are we heading toward a regression from historical progress?
We are paralyzed. Has our society driven itself to such a sensitive platform where all we say and do is overanalyzed and carefully inspected for hints of bias and hate? I think so.
Reflecting back, I can remember when we were not as easily offended. Are we more aware or are we over-sensitizing? Like everything else, there are several perspectives.
A recent news piece caught my attention raising my awareness to the magnitude of our problem. Michigan State hit the headlines when a leather shoelace was reported as a hate symbol and in the form of a noose which rightfully alarmed students. Except that it was not what it was.
The police were contacted. Widespread panic encompassed the campus community. Law enforcement were able to track down the student who had lost the shoelaces. The shoelaces had been in a package, evidently lost, unbeknownst to the student who was traveling along the campus. After the apparent accidental discard, the shoelaces got separated from each other. They were not reported missing by the student nor by their shoestring families.
The shoelaces took separate paths. One stayed in the package. The other fell, was subsequently rescued and hung on a door knob in a dormitory. The shoelace was hung as it was found, in the same shape as it had been packaged by the shoelace factory. A student found it on her doorknob.
The “sinister” act was taken as a sign of racism. After the police sorted the entire incident out and reunited the shoelaces with each other and the student owner, the university tried to smooth over the debacle.
First, I would like to point out that the investigation was some great police work. That is some serious humping and shaking down to put together a huge mystery stemming from a commodity dropped by a person. I could never tell you where the candy wrapper in my front yard came from. But that is not the most profound revelation. The harsh awakening is it put a stark reality check on where we are as a nation right now.
Racial divide is a precursor to disaster.
We recognize as a nation that divided we fall.
Civil unrest has been on a steady incline for some time. It is just like a pimple under the surface which festers over time and comes to a head. If you do not believe me, then recap the last 10 years of societal discord and watch the civil unrest unfold in a timeline. It is only going to get worse.
There are so many false narratives stimulating the divide. Some might wave that fact off as the police making an excuse. Headlines are deceiving and everything is in 6 second blips to grasp your attention and engage your emotions. You really have to dig down to the case facts to find the entire truth.
Multi-media outlets blast their agendas to either influence people in a political direction or drive ratings to gain dollars. The truth is shoved in the corner. When the outcomes are publicized and the results do not fit the initial headlines, people glance over the truth and dismiss it.
It baffles me.
Sure, America has problems. Furthermore, most all support the ideal that racial bias must be extinguished. Like smothered with immediate action. If we can all agree on that point, then we have a good start.
We see glimpses of the sewage blocked up in some of these public shows of supremacy.
However, how are we ever going to get to talking points if the solution is masses taking up violence for change. Explain to me how extremist groups of any color are helpful. Prejudicial thought is narrow minded and divisive.
What happened to the pride and advantage of a melting pot?
America is a great melting pot. Why are the ingredients not working in harmony? We should be embracing our differences, cultural perspectives, and individual talents. Diversity is an advantage.
However, we are observing partisan stances overriding long lasting friendships.
Social media allows us to post things behind a screen. There is no discussion, just post and run. I call them drive-bys. In fact, overall, technology has shaped us into a disconnected lot of apathetic souls.
Moral beliefs and wholesome family values have decayed.
Police-citizen relationships are riddled with tension and distrust in many areas of the country. Much of this has been surging because of several police shootings and arrests involving white officers and black suspects, causing a racial divide. Stereotyping and racial profiling have long been hot topics in police reform. The recent events have taken this social problem to a higher scale of concern.
Are we always going to associate Ferguson, Missouri, as the fault line of modern civil unrest and policing matters? Perhaps.
Complaints in various residential areas continue to rise. Much of the meat and potatoes stems from having all white police forces in a mixed community which causes a disparity in demographic representation and a perception of bias becomes the accepted norm in the neighborhood. Can we blame anyone?
Diversity is so important to blend talents together and represent all.
Everyone has some sort of bias somewhere about something.
No one wants to hear that. When they exist, we should work through them and past them.
I have worked all my life in different establishments with many different people I liked and did not like. It never had anything to do with color or cultural differences. Most of the work conflict was personality or policy differences. I was still able to work with anyone even if it was not always enjoyable.
Law enforcement, similar to the military, teaches you a valuable lesson in values and honor. You might dislike the person next to you, but you would still back them up and sacrifice yourself for the good of the team. It does not matter what race the person is or what cultural differences you have. You unite.
We are seeing less and less of these principles. Moreover, the public expects law enforcement to be neutral to our physical differences both internally to each other and externally to the citizens.
America sees unity in times of tragedy like 9-11, the recent Las Vegas mass shooting, or a natural disaster. At our most desperate moments we can come together. Why cannot that be the case in everyday life?
The media spotlight intensifies racial divide.
Everyone is entitled to know about controversial events. These should not be shielded from public knowledge. What is often absent is the undiminished truth.
When a police issue is reported and causes racial tension at a national level, the specific call parameters are lost in the sensationalism. Police actions appearing racially motivated become a community affair. As they should be. However, they also become a catalyst to blanketing the entire profession and all police actions or a homogenous group of people. All are negative outcomes.
Captured videos publicized by the media might show a clip of a struggle but seldom portray the incident context or the truth in its entirety. Often these are snipits, edits, or angles which do not provide all the evidence.
Yes, police can get it wrong. Officers are not perfect. Brutality does exist. Bad cops are out there. However, it is not the norm. It is not the majority.
What do citizens really know about the use of force continuum? Not much. I am not being snide. Rarely does the public understand law enforcement procedures regarding effecting an arrest and a resistance situation.
Pretty soon opinions line up that officers are tactically out of touch, over the top, and have some prejudicial aspect underlying the incident captured. Now more than ever, the media hones in on the color of the involved parties.
Does this mean that white American cops should only police white neighborhoods? Let’s not get silly.
A starting place is to stop telling each other the other person or group is wrong.
Perceptions are based upon interpretation and feelings. It is a mental impression. That consciousness does not just disappear even if facts contradict the basis or event or experience from which the understanding developed.
Police use of force pertaining to black suspects is the crux of the divide which is causing examinations not only into law enforcement procedures, but organizational makeup and genetic characteristics of a department.
Is the discontinuity always about color?
Perhaps it is more of a clash of cultural perspectives and lack of understanding. Racial discrimination has been overemphasized in every event since Ferguson. These narratives get eternalized by block print and television commentators.
But that is where we need to bridge the gaps. If it is real or perceived does not matter. It is a factor in civil disruption. Yet, whether it is real or perceived becomes a bone of contention.
Racial discrimination should never be tolerated. Ever.
Police procedures have been standardized for decades with minor adjustments in tactical aspects. When tactics go wrong, they should be addressed. Examining and dissecting procedure is always smart in any police action.
Portions of contention seem to lie in police attitudes and culture. We need to understand and discuss all the concerns, perceptions, and meet to figure it out.
Society has become deaf. Interpersonal relations have been taken over by digital communication. We do not listen to each other. We only wait for our turn to talk.
Law enforcement needs majority public trust and the public need to trust police. If not, we are in a world of hurt.
Sounds logical, right? It is easy to declare, harder to reach.
Our society has become apathetic, disconnected, and driven by tantrum actions to solve problems. Our nation continues a decline toward moral bankruptcy. Where did that come from? Us. We created this mess.
How does racism continue to perpetuate? Shouldn’t it be washed out of our society by now? Why is it still here?
Easy two-part answer. Because of fear and we are misinformed.
Many people are too lazy to find the truth and do the research. If we just close our eyes and wake up tomorrow, things will better, right? Wishful thinking and denial are not resolutions.
We influence badly. We share recklessly. We rely a lot on others rather than ourselves. This also pertains to communication and information. Additionally, people are afraid of what they don’t know, what they have not experienced, and what or who is different from themselves.
These are cold hard truths.
Let’s look at the commonly aired problems.
Citizen outcries consist of feedback that the police are racist, biased, and treat some suspects unfairly. The public say the police do not understand them and the police say the public does not understand law enforcement. Both have truths.
The police feel there are false narratives and media driven agendas. Additionally, law enforcement believes civil unrest persists from a continuance of feeling the police are always biased. These perceptions are real from the law enforcement side. Surely, you can understand their position. Since there has been a failure in coming together, a lack of understanding, and fear then the situation immortalizes over time.
Fear and misinformation are driving the protests, the ambushes on police, and continual narration of conflicts.
Police must enforce the laws. People must abide by them or suffer consequences. Pure and simple.
Is it though?
Things get muddled in context and here we are.
Law enforcement have been amending procedures and processes for years including implementing diversity training, improving community service models, and forming neighborhood coalitions. Since the 1970s when community oriented policing was created, no epitome has existed. In fact, the public trust in law enforcement has been reminisce of a series of ebb and tide.
Despite these changing efforts, racial divide has placed police and citizens at opposite ends of a spectrum. We should be further along and no paragon has emerged. In fact, racial divide in society and distrust of law enforcement is in the worst state since the 1960s.
Why is everyone continuing to bolster racial divide, but there is no national energy to bring unity to our communities? It is coming across as blaming more so than problems solving. Are we listening to each other? Have you tried to put yourself in the other’s shoes? Does unity take a directive from our lawmakers? Are we counting on someone else to fix our problems?
Community action must be the driving force. The media isn’t going to do it. One person is not going to do it. We are going to have to do it ourselves, one town at a time. Together.
Otherwise, racial divide will continue on it’s current course for the worse.