Yes, we have differences (see below). No, we share a common humanity. It seems we need a better balance between the two!
To identify a few startling events from our recent past: Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19 yr. old in Cincinnati shot and killed during Holy Week of 2001. Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old, shot and killed in 2013. This month -July 2016 -2 men killed in two consecutive days: Alton Sterling, 37,in Baton Rouge, LA., Philando Castile, 32, killed in St. Paul, MN. All of these men reflect what is increasingly seen as a war against Black Men Not to discount women and children but the deaths of young black men continues to escalate. WHY? We know there are no simplistic answers. Today, black men, women, and children continue to be maimed, wounded and/or killed, not just through police brutality but also through economic injustice and stereotypical negative assumptions. The result throughout our country’s history has been an enduring clash between a white power structure and the lives of the underserved and/or marginalized.
Today’s technology provides increasing surveillance – body cameras worn by police and videos made by civilians if and when an argument is taking place. They are improved, but not perfect, means to protect both private citizens and the police.
So, what are we to do? What is to be done? Perhaps it sounds like a cliché but a major way to resolve conflict and difference is to put ourselves into direct contact with those who differ from us. Be it RACE, CLASS, GENDER or CULTURE. Myriad organizations exist that are open to new membership and offer multiple resources. Find opportunities to develop friendships. Watch films and TV shows that have race/ethnicity, class, gender or culture as a theme. Read books written by people of a different race than yours. Join a book club with diverse participants; gather in each others’ homes. Attend lectures, conferences with one of these themes. If you’re able, travel whether it be across the city, statewide, nationally or internationally. All of these options offer a variety of experiences with the ‘Other’ who can become brother or sister. The result can be solidarity!
I believe there is much truth and wisdom in the saying “we fear what we do not know”. Police, in addition, need training in new approaches that will nurture better, more effective ways to relate to the public whom they serve. Finally, I encourage you to view the following video.
Be the change you want to see. Gandhi