As a Black African American in today’s society, the police are my worst nightmare, and I know I speak for many other African-American young adults out there. The actions of individual officers in cases like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are completely unjustified. Holding a knee on someone’s neck for seven minutes is far from justifiable. Officers shooting through a door when no one answers, hitting Breonna Taylor, is also far from justifiable. The police should have fired the officers involved immediately because these actions go against the protocols they are taught.
Cato T. Laurencin and Joanne M. Walker once found in their study, Racial Profiling Is a Public Health and Health Disparities Issue, that “Officers were equal in formality between Black and White drivers but higher in respect with White drivers, with officers speaking with less respect to Black drivers.” The quote went on to say, “White community members were 57% more likely to hear respectful utterances while Black community members were 61% more likely to hear a less respectful utterance from a police officer.” When thinking about this, this goes a very long way. A lot of police actions when dealing with people of color can go bad based on the actions that police officers exemplify. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect, and I know as well as hope that their training doesn’t consist of treating one set of people with respect and the other like trash.
Looking at the stats alone from this study highlights a lot of things wrong with how police interact with people of color. Even if the language isn’t bluntly disrespectful, many can tell when one is talking to them differently than how one would be talking to another human being. Or in this case a person of non color. Officers are not taught to use a knee on someone’s neck, blocking their airway. They are not trained to shoot up a room without an immediate threat or danger, nor are they instructed to fail to announce themselves as police officers when knocking on a door. Some officers, unfortunately, think that what they do is justifiable. Even after the George Floyd incident, an Allentown, Pennsylvania police officer felt the need, about three to four months later, to kneel on another African American man’s neck. This officer had seen what happened to George Floyd, yet he still felt the need to do the same. This reflects the disturbing mindset some officers have towards African Americans – that we are a danger to society, and they can use any force against us without consequences.
The Black Lives Matter movement was a crucial moment that finally made people pay attention to the longstanding issues faced by African Americans. Police beatings, racism, and more have been ongoing for decades, but the George Floyd incident brought these issues into focus. While I do not agree with the riots, they displayed our pain for all to see, and poetically I do feel that it was a means to an end, with the goal being for those to see, and feel the pain many African Americans have felt for decades. I truly feel that this fight will never be over in the society we live in. So my question to you is, what do we do? And how do we continue to fight this never ending war of discrimination that has been going on with African Americans for decades?