Outside the Gated Community: The Reality of Police Violence Towards our Sisters and Brothers of Color
By: Jarrod Cochran
My heart hangs heavy over the events of the past few weeks in my nation, the United States. I speak, of course, to the continued murders of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. With the advent of modern technology, nearly anyone can record video of events from their cell phone. This technology has helped pull the veil open on police brutality against citizens—especially people of color. These public videos of the murders of countless black men and women have been uncomfortable for many to see. But I think it has been the worst in White, Middle-Class America. For the most part, White Americans have been in denial of what is really happening to our sisters and brothers of color (despite their continued cries for justice). Most of us had convinced ourselves that racism was over and that all of the ideals and dreams that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had worked for had been accomplished.
We would tell ourselves that, "Sure, there are more blacks incarcerated per capita than whites, but that has to do with upbringing and culture. These people that are crying 'foul' are just people wanting more privileges and to free-load off of the system. After all, Bill Cosby said as much in his 'get tough talks', and he's black." This and similar critiques would be our narratives on black society, all the while ignorant of the inherent racism in our own thought processes. The murders of innocent black men and women at the hands of cops have given rise to a beautiful movement known as Black Lives Matter. These women and men have forced us to look closely at what is going on between the black community and police departments. Furthermore, it has caused us to look deeply at our understanding of race and the systems that perpetuate it.
In our day and age, it is impossible to not be inundated with information on any particular subject. In no known time has so much information been so freely available and, at the same time, ignorance run so rampant. With these resources at our disposal, we residents of White America have had two options set before us: accept the reality that people of color are being targeted by police departments or double-down on our desire to remain comfortable with the status quo.
There are many models for uprooting oppression in our communities. To offer one of many, the Hosanna! People’s Seminary approach is to discern particular areas of privilege and poverty within a community through a three part process: awareness of privilege and oppression in the community; accountability in the community to the oppressed party and to the continued education and development of the privileged party through ally training; and solidarity in relationship with the oppressed party or those allying with the oppressed party outside of the community.
For example, a group committed to rooting out ableism in their community and work would first grow in awareness of any ability-based disparities in privilege in the circle. To assist them in this task, they may seek out the help of an anti-oppression trainer, a trusted advisor, or a tool such as an accessibility audit.
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