How many times have you heard this response when a discriminatory incident occurs and there is a demand for change: We’ve got to do better. The problem with this response is that no one is held accountable and no one is ever asked what do they mean by ‘better’? Better than what? Or maybe we hear this to soothe our grief and our anguish: Our prayers and well wishes go out to the family.
After a while, we lose faith that anything is ever going to change. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: Wait means never. When I heard the Breonna Taylor verdict I was not surprised and neither were so many others in this country. What would have been surprising was that justice was done.
There are so many glaring similarities to this incident to so many others: Why were officers wearing body cameras if they get to choose not to turn them on? Why is the footage from the cameras often withheld sometimes for months? Why is there no punishment for turning the body cams off, like being suspended for a year without pay or fired? When there are no clear answers, these questions become perception: What are they hiding? Is this another example of police officers protecting each other through lies and deception? Are they racists/white supremacists? ‘Serve and protect’ who? And the list goes on and on…
Recently, I was stunned when a police union protested because they were shocked that they were being perceived as animals and criminals. The real question isn’t just how shameful or disrespectful this might seem to some, but rather why do you think folks are saying this? Aren’t you even curious? What part of this are you responsible for when you don’t speak up when you witness another officer is breaking the law? Is the ‘blue wall of silence’ a myth or does it exist in every police department in America? To deny the full truth is like saying that the priests who molested all these young boys shouldn’t be indicted because they mostly do good, is not only ridiculous, but a violent act of denial. Every time someone is silent in the face of an injustice…someone always pays a price.
Unless, we as a country, are willing to question and hold responsible those who are in positions of power (which is the duty of every citizen) and to hold them accountable, there will always be two Americas: ones who are in power and those who are not.
Unless we hold a president accountable who brags about a reporter being beaten up and who by a stroke of a pen cancelled all diversity trainings in government because he felt they were ‘unamerican’ and no one speaks up, then we are all responsible for the anguish and rage that is spilling onto our streets and into every institution in this country.
Someone once said: You can always spot someone who is afraid of the truth by two major characteristics: trying to make you afraid of it and blaming someone for it. Sound familiar?