My column—about keeping the violence against black and brown people in the forefront of our discussions rather than focusing on police good deeds—has elicited a response I didn’t expect. Even one of my closest friends who is a police officer read my column as a condemnation of his identity. I know what he thinks because I actually turned to my two LEO (a term I just learned, that means Law Enforcement Officer, for those of you who also didn’t know) friends for help. After so many “after this you’ll be out of luck if you call 911” types of comments, I needed to confirm that the police would continue protecting me. Even thinking that question for a few minutes has me still feeling shaky. And, yes, they both confirmed that public opinion doesn’t sway how they do their jobs. The pro-police people won’t turn violent, said one.
As so many people continue misreading my column as one being anti-police, or as disrespecting LEOs, I want to restate the actual point: we are living in a world where the news of violence against black and brown people is only just starting to be understood in the white world. White people need to hear and not dismiss or gloss over the realities of mass incarceration, including police violence. We need to recognize our systems are built on racism and we need to work to change it.
(note: the term “ally” is distasteful to me and I recommend not using it. the point of these links is to give concrete suggestions of actions white people can take in the fight.)