The United States is Black and Blue
The purpose of this article is not to add more noise to another already loud discussion on black lives matter vs blue lives matter.
This post is also not intended to take any sides or insult/attack any group.
It is, instead, to discuss why we should not be talking about “black vs blue” at all.
Racism is not dead, and it never was. In fact, it might never be able to be fully eradicated in all its forms from human society.
That is why it is so important that the American people handle the current situation properly, to ensure that the country can move forward. To ensure that all Americans can move forward, as well.
To begin, this is not President Obama’s fault.
Many claim that his rhetoric on the matter has been too divisive. I disagree with this. Just because he is not endorsing the acts of law enforcement, does not mean he is extolling the virtues of rioters and attacks against police officers.
People need to realize that he is in a very difficult situation. He is a black man, the first to reach the office of President of the United States. As the first black President, he must now approach a very sensitive issue concerning blacks and American men and women in uniform. It is essentially a lose-lose, as there will be critics on both sides complaining he is siding with one group over another.
President Obama is not picking any side. Just because someone broaches the subject of racism, does not mean they are trying to incite racism.
Speaking of which side is in the right and which is not, I would like to state this:
Both the black community and law enforcement are to blame.
What this really means, is that American government and society, at large, are to blame.
Allow me to explain before you press the send button on the hate-mail:
Most of the issues facing the black community can be traced back to a lack of economic opportunity.
There is not a whole lot of upward mobility in inner city neighborhoods and in other areas where the population is consisting mostly of minorities.
Where the government has failed is in creating more accessible opportunities for these communities. The best way to do this is through education and youth programs. If kids are busy receiving a quality education and being involved in various youth groups, they are less likely to become involved with crime and more likely to be employed.
Lower crime in neighborhoods attracts business which attracts more people, and so a thriving community grows.
Another benefit of increased education and economic opportunities is the decrease in teen pregnancies. This allows the teens chance to mature in a multitude of ways so that when they decide to have kids of their own, those children begin in a better socio-economic level than they would otherwise
Where I believe the black community to be failing itself relates to what was mentioned above.
What others, including the government, can’t do for you, you must do for yourself.
Communities need to fight for better education and economic opportunities. Crime and teen pregnancies should not be viewed as the status quo. This is where family plays a large role and why creating a supportive home environment for children is key to success. More emphasis should be put on the idea of bettering yourself as an individual.
These statements are general and are coming from a person who did not grow up in the environment being discussed. I understand it is difficult to make these kinds of changes on a large level in disadvantaged communities. Also, black on black violence is much more of a threat to the black community than police abuse. If a movement like #BlackLivesMatter can be organized, and individuals have enough time and energy to protest, and in some cases riot, then attempting the above is not at all impossible.
In order for the nation to move forward, law enforcement practices need to be updated. This includes the police, the judicial system, and the prison system.
Standards need to be raised for those seeking to enter law enforcement. Training needs to be extended as well. Police officers need to understand that even though they are in a position of authority, and are protecting the law, does not mean they are above the law. This means more accountability and transparency.
The judicial system needs to update the way in which proceedings work as well as update the punishments for various crimes. Lesser sentences for lesser crimes. Police may be catching the criminals, but it is the judicial system that is sentencing them to years in prison.
This leads me to the prison system. There has been increased attention on the state of the American mass incarceration system. The current state of affairs is creating an environment where violators of the law are not truly given an opportunity to better themselves and receive a second chance, leading to repeat offenders. Most of these offenders are minorities.
Where American society, at large has failed, is in the lack of open and unbiased dialogue on this subject. Media, in particular, tends to put biased spins on various stories of protests and examples of police brutality.
Individuals are to blame as well. We are now able to live in a world powered by social media where we can surround ourselves with news stories and articles that we agree with. Instead of listening to various sides of an argument, we are only exposing ourselves to the side we already like. This is not how educated opinions are formed.
In order to resolve this, we must begin to hold both ourselves and the media accountable for the news stories being provided and consumed.
All of the above create a vicious cycle for many blacks (and other minorities) growing up in poorer areas. They are not given a good foundation as children which leads to many participating in criminal activity to various degrees. Once apprehended by police and entered into the system, it is difficult to rehabilitate and move on. When this becomes more widespread, it leads to resentment or, worse, resignation to the belief that the situation will never improve.
For the country to move forward and close the rifts present in our society, change must occur.
I firmly believe that focusing on the youth, and providing quality education and programs from pre-k through high school, will begin to garner positive results for neighborhoods across the country in the years to follow.
The cultural changes are the most difficult to enact, however. In order to progress, communities and organizations need to better themselves. It is also absolutely imperative to the success desired that communities and law enforcement work hard together to better understand each other and the issues each side faces.
In fact, we should stop thinking in terms of “sides” altogether.
We are all one side, we are all Americans.