Anyone remember the payphone, Blockbuster Video or the Walkman. Before these cultural staples left us and left culture–did you spend anytime debating if these things were good or bad? Did you spend anytime debating if you needed them anymore? That’s exactly how this Now/Next Generation feels about the Police—they don’t sit at home or at the bar debating if Police are needed—they firmly believe that we don’t need the POLICE anymore. Now, I think they are wrong: but every Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, Philando Castillo and countless others reaffirms their belief that they are correct.
This generation has no concept of “Officer Friendly” or “Crime Dog McGruff…all they know is F**k 12 and Defund Police and Invest in Education. Which ultimately leads us to the reality of legitimacy. America’s policing history with regard to Black people has been one of extraction. A history of taking something from Black people (life, freedom, things)—therefore the community doesn’t believe that police honor the words they took, by oath to serve and protect Black people. Police on the other hand, have traditionally seen Black, Brown and poor people as threats, savages, etc, who are therefore not worth of civilized treatment. Neither side sees the value in each other and it creates legitimacy issues, which creates a stalemate. If we want to end this stalemate between “Black Lives” and “Blue Lives” and which of their lives matter most, we have to first acknowledge the legitimacy issues that each group has with one another.
Next week I will highlight the cost of getting community policing wrong.