As an adult, I’m truly embarrassed by the naivety of my juvenile thoughts as a young child. I was a Black boy raised and taught to respect the authority of the police and that they only took away the “bad” people. In my little head, I didn’t understand the deeper complexity around my misconception of “bad” people, especially with the imagery of many of those people ironically looking like me. Even as an older teen, when I saw or heard of the few and rarely publicly known Black victims of police brutality, my mind would sadly gravitate towards the alleged deeds of what those people must have done to put themselves in harm’s way. A blame I cast on the facets of society that is, was, intent to oppress and poison the minds about a certain minority. As an adult, I acknowledge that was wrong. I allowed my thoughts to be influenced by a lack of creditable resources, inexperience, and youth.
My personal safety and that of my family, friends, and other Black and Brown people is equally important to me in creating a healthy environment of prosperity, hope, and community growth. These ideas may seem foreign to those that have lived a life of privilege and without experiencing racial bias. More importantly when it comes down to life and death, policing reform IS the one area within our culture in the United States, where we can’t wait any longer. Whether you are for disbanding or defunding police, something has to change to ensure the safety of all citizens. To “protect and to serve” shouldn’t come with exclusions just because someone thought a person was in the wrong apartment, or because someone thought a child’s gun looked too real, or because someone thought they were using a taser, or because someone thought a person’s behavior was different (or erratic) without considering a potential mental health issue. I understand that the work is demanding, and mistakes can and do happen on any job, right? The question I raise is, if there is no bias in the current policing model or if the “system isn’t busted, why do deaths continue to happen to predominately Black and Brown people when the police are involved? It’s no secret that Black people (African Americans) and other minorities make up the largest numbers when it comes to incarcerations.
And the misadventures of a modern day American Negro continue…
I’m talking about the tragic ending of lives at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve. I am tired of the constant heartache and suffering that continues to plague specifically my community. I’m tired of seeing the livelihood of so many thriving neighborhoods becoming scarred by destruction, in broad retaliation for decades of injustices while demanding change. Though the recent guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin has given us one brief moment of celebration, this is just one conviction. This is just one time where justice prevailed and was delivered by a brave, sympathetic, and racially diverse jury. Honestly, I did my best to avoid following this trial. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for a fair trial.
I know what it’s like to experience mass disappointment for high profile racial disputes of the courtroom. In 1992, I was living in Los Angeles during the savage beating by police officers of RODNEY KING and that mockery of a trial that followed. The police officers were acquitted of any wrongdoing. The community response, along with those of opportunists, left parts of South Central Los Angeles in ruin and curfews across the city. I remember sitting on the rooftop of my apartment building at Holloway House with several neighbors watching the plumes of smoke from fires burning in the distance. Fast forward to today, my emotions are already worn from the past four years of political idiocracy and ignored cries for social justice that fell on deaf ears. Psychological trauma is real people!
To me, the wheels of change are moving painstakingly slow when applied to making institutional changes for the improvement of the lives of marginalized people. Any changes that have been made so far, are often hard to see or are too insignificant to make an impact. For example, just look at banking institutions’ lending history for Black homeownership and the support of Black and minority-owned businesses. Black people have historically lacked sufficient wealth to create any financial stability for ourselves and families to establish long-term fiscal health.
I’m a dreamer. In my fantasy world, I imagine that we are forward-thinking people with the ability to look at our past racial missteps as an opportunity of learning whereby we would work to make amends for those who have been victims of a biased and oppressive system. As I awake from the fog of my night time slumber, I’m gradually reminded that my fantasy is nothing more than make believe. Will we ever be able to acknowledge and reconcile (abolish) the outdated practices designed to make people (minorities) feel and made to believe that they (we) are less than? Or must we all continue to live in this never ending cycle of pain?
I don’t believe all police are bastards. I do believe however that there are advantages and components of the position (badge, perception of power) that make it attractive for those individuals to act out one’s bias in an environment that allows and often protects those officers that do. I have previously written about my own interactions with police and law enforcement and have been lucky to walk and drive away from the experiences angry, embarrassed, but alive. All it would take for my name to be added to the list of ever-growing “oopsies”, is the idea that the officer would feel threatened by me in some form or fashion (hoodie), think I was being disrespectful in my articulate response (being uppity), or misinterpreting a sneeze from my seasonal allergies as a hostile gesture, for me to become a statistic.
How many mothers, brothers, fathers, sons, and daughters have to die before we change how we see Black and Brown people? The amount of melanin in a person’s skin shouldn’t be a detriment or determinant for one’s survival. Know their names!
ADAM BROWN JR.