It’s always been there. Hiding behind public politeness, genuine friendships, and marriages between the races. Behind the high profiles of famous Black athletes and entertainers, the rise of the Black middle class and even the election of a Black president.
The racism and inhumanity in the United States began with the brutal seizure of 1.5 billion acres of land from the Native Americans and their forced re-location to reservations, and continued through over two centuries of slavery. It flourished through the Black codes and Jim Crow laws, along with the over 6,500 lynchings of African Americans.
It didn’t stop, it just evolved.
The inequality in employment, income, housing, health care and the justice system has continued in America for far too long. Too often these issues are met with claims of the ‘race card’ and denials of their existence. No condition can be treated without first being diagnosed.
Are Blacks imagining this mistreatment by police? Not according to statistics and every published study.
When people saw former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, slowly and casually killing George Floyd by pressing his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring pleas from onlookers to stop, a light finally came on in the minds of many. “Wow, people of color have not been exaggerating police abuse after all! Am I paying taxes for this?”
This came after the February lynching and cover-up of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and the reckless and shameful murder of Breonna Taylor. The lack of punishment for these types of atrocities over the years has enabled them to continue. Who knows-maybe if the killers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Atatiana Jefferson had been punished, police officers would have considered the consequences of their brutality and lives would have been saved.
Along with police reform, we must reform the image of the sub-human Black male brute, perpetuated by the media and Hollywood with its stereotypes of how Black men are portrayed and/or not portrayed. This practice has made it easier for many to believe every police claim of being “in fear for their lives.”
However, there is some hope as the multi-cultural, global protests have shown. Millions of people are taking to the streets in spite of being in the midst of a world-wide pandemic after seeing America’s racism and police brutality for what it is.
The advent of cell phone cameras has certainly helped expose something that’s been going on for decades. Let’s keep this movement going!
A police uniform is not a halo.