Friday, July 8, 2016

My Take: Police Shootings


I read a very difficult editorial in the New York Times this morning.  It was titled "What White America Fails to See," and I found it difficult to internalize and accept.

Yet, I know there are truths contained inside the words that Michael Eric Dyson wrote and I feel his hurt and frustration. 

I wish that we were a multi-cultural nation of equals. I wish the concept of America being a "salad bowl" was actually true or even close to being correct--but clearly, it is not. Multiculturalism is a difficult concept and it is clear from the virulent words of at least one candidate for president, not understood or fully appreciated. 

Maybe it was easier when America was "melting pot." Even if the concept was a facade, we believed that we could operate from a singular point of view across different ethnicities. I can see how America was built upon the backs of the newest groups of immigrants in history. The cities and the railroads and the critical infrastructure were built by those newest to America. Yes, that a gross generalization, but fundamentally accurate. As the newest immigrants assimilated, they became Americans and were, mostly, accepted. 

But some groups, cultures, were never accepted; hence, multiculturalism has always been with us but the majority were blind to the inequity.

The police shootings of the past two years highlight the cultural differences. The author of the editorial this morning suggests that we view other cultures through binoculars. That resonated with me. We watch from a safe distance and make judgements without experiencing the the reality of life happening where the binoculars are looking. 

Some of the hard words that he wrote cut deeply. 

You hold an entire population of Muslims accountable for the evil acts of a few. Yet you rarely muster the courage to put down your binoculars, and with them, your corrosive self-pity, and see what we see. You say religions and cultures breed violence stoked by the complicity of silence because peoples will not denounce the villains who act in their names.
Yet you do the same. You do not condemn these cops; to do so, you would have to condemn the culture that produced them — the same culture that produced you. Black people will continue to die at the hands of cops as long as we deny that whiteness can be more important in explaining those cops’ behavior than the dangerous circumstances they face.
"Black Lives Matter." I have heard many smug people, including some political candidates, insist that "All Lives Matter" and I too, for a while was blind to the deeper meaning of the cry. Yet, even though my binoculars are still firmly in my hand, I am appalled at the events of the past two days and I am fully aware that a white person in either of the situations in Louisiana or Minnesota would not have been executed by the police.  And that is the problem. 

I watched the video of the Minnesota shooting. There are a lot of things in that video that are just wrong.

My Take: It was wrong! It was murder. Even I am afraid.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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