July 8, 2016

Racial Anger and Dallas

I live near Dallas. I was in sight of downtown today. This is my home, and I am angry.

Before I continue, you should know a couple things:

  1. I am not debating nor wanting to debate the validity anger surrounding police shootings. I know that in most of these situations both the cop and the victim's loved ones believe they did/were doing the right thing in the moment. Debating the validity does not solve problems and it does not mean the anger goes away, so frankly it is pointless.
  2. There are times where I will be generalizing. I totally know that each individual handle anger differently and so many in Dallas tonight were peacefully managing and trying to solve their anger. This post supports the actions oof those people. 
  3. Context:11 Police Officers Shot in Dallas

So, I am angry. African Americans are angry. There is plenty of anger to go around tonight on all sides for so many different reasons. I am here to tell everyone feeling anger and frustration and sadness over this event one thing: Angry is ok. It is even good. It tells us something is wrong either in reality or in perception. 

So, I am angry. You are angry. And it's ok. What's next? I have created a three-step process to managing pain and emotions in order to help myself and my family:
1) Recognise that you are feeling anger. You can fix what you don't know.
2) Figure out why you are angry. For example: is it because cops in your city were shot from rooftops? Is it because there is a pattern of racially based decisions regarding threat validity? Is it because these shootings have not received as much air time or interest as Trump's recent gaffe or TayTay's new beau? You can't address the feeling when you don't know the core cause.
3) Fix it. 

But how do we fix it? By breaking the cycle. Conflicts, history, and the seasons are all naturally cyclical. In police brutality the cycle looks like this (it's a circle y'all, but Blogger doesn't let me make bullet lists in the shape of one ;P): 
  •  Media reports 'unarmed black man shot by police' remember, the validity of what actually happened doesn't really matter much to us. We still feel angry, so there is something that needs to be fixed (in another situation I might suggest that what 'needs to be fixed' is actually our perception, but because this issue is so subjective and widespread that while the problem might no be as severe as some see we have to all agree that there is a pattern of racially based decisions regarding threat validity.)
  • Protests occur many even most will be peaceful.
  • Headlines change from 'protests occurring' to 'riots' a riot only has to happen in one city to create this change, and the reality is that the one violent activity will likely be perpetrated by African Americans.
  • Police tense and more on guard depending on the size of the event this could affect one city or even the nation. Dallas will affect the whole nation.
  • An officer pulls over or encounters an African American and for some reason identifies a potential threat most officers that cause headline ABSOLUTELY have some suspicion regarding the victim's action.  
  • The officer instantaneously and subconsciously has to conduct a threat validity assessment what this means is that an officer has to evaluate the likelihood of this suspicion being a life-threatening reality. What this means is that the tensions and worries about the one fringe riot likely play a key part it that evaluation. The officer's subconscious is going 'my friend's storefront was ravaged by the Fergeson riots' or '11 of my fellow officers were shot down trying to protect protests by violent protesters. I AM NOT EXCUSING THEIR DECISIONS. In order to fix we need to know why and how. We absolutely need fair reviews of such shootings. 
  • BONUS: No conviction or repercussions fuels more protests

The take-away should be that anger directed toward individual officers are misguided. Direct anger toward the system instead. Step 3 was 'fix it'. The only way to fix this problem is to break the above cycle. The two points in the circle we can best address is the 'riot' and the actual 'shooting'. Here are real, reasonable ways to begin to break the circle at those points:

  1. Very clearly condemning ANY violence. This is often done after the fact, but it goes further than that. Stop telling jokes about it. Tell people around you that you will leave if they joke about it. This applies to cop killing/violence, looting, jokes about the shooting of unarmed individuals, etc. 
  2. Police oversight. I am a big supporter of body cameras for police. These cameras are PROVEN to reduce the use of violence used by officers (due to increased consciousness regarding decisions to use violent means) and reduce violence against and agitation of officers. Body cams really do help both sides. Additionally, if a shooting does occur we have the ability to review footage of the FULL incident. If we had such footage of the Ferguson catastrophe it would have changed the whole narrative.

"It's not us vs them. This peaceful protest is about all of us coming together to solve problems." -A peaceful protester who witnessed the shooting of 11 officers in Dallas this evening; he was interviewed by Fox News because apparently I don't get CNN anymore.