Are you bracing for me to give an opinion on the verdict of the Mike Brown/Ferguson case? Keep waiting because I’m not about to do that. Why? Because over the course of the last month and certainly after having numerous conversations with my girlfriend, I realize there is no resolution to be found simply because people don’t fully understand or relate to opposing points of view.
People who come from privilege and never had to deal with poverty or bigotry will never understand why folks cry racism when something is afoot. They won’t understand why people will be angry enough to riot (though I abhor rioting myself and not all of it is done out of anger). They won’t understand why some people are so quick to blame cops.
Those on the other side of the fence won’t realize everything isn’t a conspiracy to subjugate the poor black man and cops aren’t all bad. They won’t understand how people can defend the shooting of Mike Brown and they will feel like the ones being attacked because many of them have experienced some form of discrimination in their life.
I grew up in a poor community, but was lucky enough to eventually have a well-paying job and be the acceptable black guy. I know both sides of the fence. I know Mike Brown wasn’t a saint and I know Darren Wilson isn’t a devil. I know the opposite isn’t true for either of them. I know they’re both just human beings who have walked a road based on their lot in life. Still, something needs to get addressed, right?
Here’s the problem: in America, experiences are entirely too separated. Racism becomes hearsay (I’ve actually heard people say racism isn’t a problem in the US anymore… HA). Poverty is something to be hidden in slums and ghettos. The poor end up hating the rich. Blacks hate whites. People associate crime with race instead of poverty. People associate the shooting of Mike Brown with race instead of an individual and a broken system.
None of this means we should stop trying to make forward progress, but I’m tired of having the same debates over who is right and who is wrong. EVERYONE falls into both categories.
We’re ALL f***ing up here.
So how do we fix this? My girlfriend says I speak too much about theory without any answers. I say it’s because the entire system is a sham and we need to start over, but if I’m forced to make changes in this broken society of ours, this is what I’d do to prevent another Ferguson from taking place:
1. All cops should be at the federal, not state level. I feel there should be need to be NATIONAL standards on how officers conduct matters, are trained, and are evaluated. Procedures should be the same across the board and the same goes for major laws.
2. Police officers should not be above the law and should be prosecuted in the same manner, according to the same laws as all other citizens. This needs to happen with EVERYONE, but especially those with so much power. Speaking of power…
3. Any abuse of power results in termination. Officers play an important role in our society. We can’t allow the type of mistrust that’s infesting our country continue. There will never be any peace if people feel as if cops are out to get them. There will always be corruption if the repercussions for officers are not high enough. Let’s not do this half-assed.
4. Evaluate the number of officers needed per state and town. Then make as many attempts as possible to have a healthy mix of demographics for each police force. This one is harder to accomplish, but it should still be a goal, starting with areas that have the most crime. Speaking of crime…
5. Stop trying to prevent crime with more prisons. This is an idiotic notion and one that is shown to be a revenue-generating endeavor. America does a horrible job of rehabilitating criminals. We throw them in prison, treat them like crap, and eventually turn them loose. Why aren’t officers mentoring? How much trust would that build if some officers weren’t out there getting a hard-on for the power they have and treating convicts like dogs. I know a guy who works at Rikers as a CO; he’s told me some stories about some officers that would blow your (sheltered) mind.
This is just a sample of what we can do to help this situation. Picking at a single issue will address nothing; like many measures we take, it’ll either be a temporary bandage or it will open the wound more. Here’s what doesn’t help: don’t assume you know why people do anything. Especially in a case like this. If something went awry, let’s also dissect the reasons why and actually come up with a plan to fix the underlying issue.
I know this is long for a daily opinion, but I look at society and I can’t see how we can make progress in this fashion. America does some great things, but boy do we drop the ball and totally screw up other things too. This country has both a great and disturbing history. The same can be said for pretty much all of humanity. You know what makes America (somewhat) different?
We have a voice.
Some of us are very privileged.
But we’re also complacent/lazy as f*** and too stubborn to realize we’re family instead of strangers. Do you guys actually want to fix something or do you just want to debate topics endlessly?
Peace out, party people.
Previously: You Broke My Heart, Dr. Huxtable