In 2015, it felt like we couldn’t go a single week without hearing about someone (generally a black person) being killed by the police. Even though police brutality didn’t go away after that, it seemed to have calmed down. Many months passed without another one of these stores going viral. This past week however, we learned of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men who were killed by the police, on video. The videos make the very convincing case that neither men were threatening the lives of the police or anyone around them: Sterling was pinned down by two officers when he was shot, making it impossible for him to be a threat; and Castile was attempting to comply with an officers request of producing his drivers license–the officer thought he was reaching for a gun.
So it was the same story all over again. It really seems like we’re making no progress on the issue of racial profiling and police brutality, but we can’t lose hope. Not yet.
After expressing my frustrations on social media, someone asked me, “What can white people do to help?” This is a tough question, because as a black person, I’m not even sure what I can do myself. The most we can hope for is remaining vocal and active about racism and highlighting injustice when we see it. Most racism isn’t direct or overtly hateful. It’s just the culmination of negative stereotypes and ingrained prejudice that is the result of years and years of inequality. So we have to, among other things, inform ourselves and inform others and learn how and when to identify racial injustice.
In the process of producing this video, there was an attack on police in Dallas, presumably in response to the killings I mentioned above. The suspect allegedly said that he acted alone, and that he wanted revenge on white people and the police. Of course, I don’t, and most people don’t support any kind of murdering of innocent people, whether or not they are cops. This represents the fallacy I mentioned above. This is not a case of being Batman and going around defeating all the bad guys. This is a problem that goes much deeper than that. We have to reverse attitudes and negative trends by highlighting and condemning injustice. This can not be solved with war.