I was having a conversation with a colleague recently. When she is in the room, you can tell some people are uncomfortable. And by “some people,” I mean some white people. She is an outspoken advocate for people of color, specifically men who have been in prison and supporting their goals as they re-enter their respective communities. I love her. I love that she has a voice I was not called to have, but I love that she is there at the proverbial table making us all uncomfortable thinkers. While her approach to “change” is different than mine, I not only think we need to welcome people who believe, think and live differently than we do, but encourage people to welcome dissenting opinions.
So we asked people in the community a single question: What is missing from the conversation around race and police brutality?
We asked them try to answer this question in 2 sentences and with the knowledge that our goal is to help lead the conversation beyond “us vs. them”
One key element that is missing from this conversation is honest engagement with the problem on the part of the (mostly) white folks who, either consciously or subconsciously, allow racist systems to continue to thrive. As a white Christian, the best thing I can do to move the conversation forward is to acknowledge my role in systemic racism that leads to, enables, and even encourages and rewards racist policing, and only then can we begin to take the steps necessary to repair our broken justice system. – Jason E., Instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University
That maybe the individual had it coming. – Keith B., Vietnam Veteran
Empathy is the missing piece in the conversation about racism and police brutality. Once you’re able to truly understand another person’s experience and perspective, it is impossible to be cruel or unkind to them. – Dr. Chris M., Spiritual Director
It is critical to do away with the “us” versus “them” mentality. One of the things that I feel is really necessary is additional training for police officers devoted specifically in dealing with people from all parts of our community, especially people of color and those with mental health issues. This training should be on going and on a continuous basis. We all must be on guard to deal with potential unconscious biases. Appropriate funding should not be an obstacle. Another thing that I think is critically important to help remedy the ongoing tensions between the community and law enforcement is to foster continuous interaction to establish a “we” mentality based on communication and understanding. We should not wait until tragic events occur to bring our communities together. – Michael S., State Attorney for Florida’s 17th judicial circuit, covering Broward County
The conversation that is missing: The history of police and correlation to KKK…. Book: ‘Slave Patrols’ by Sally E Hadden -Monalisa W., Community Organizer
As a nation, we should be ashamed of our current lack of civil discourse. It is too easy to shout from separate ideological camps rather than come together to address problems that plague us all. – Dr. Germaine B., President and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County
No one is born a racist; it takes years of indoctrination to FEAR otherness. Seeking relationships with those outside our social group breaks down the cancer of fear. – Sean F., Criminal Defense Attorney
Equality, is the missing piece of the puzzle. Our society is so focused on justifying equality, but our systems show the exact opposite. Until we as a society step out of internalized racism and oppression, people will continue to die over senseless acts. – Nancy M., Climate Justice Organizer at The New Florida Majority
Shocked? Apathetic? Moved to action? Moved to anger? Feel nothing? What did you think as you read?
People tend to either say or behave as if we live in a “post-racial society”. The notion is dismissive at best, however it is short sighted to even suggest that we have not come a mighty long way since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago today. I do not believe how far we’ve come is as important as where we are headed. The trick is to consider if we were to continue on the path we are on as a society today, would we be happy with the results tomorrow?
MLK said, “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”
Through TII (The Idea, Inc.), I am an organizer with the ability to float in and out different groups to get things done given the many, complicated, nonlinear, not-always-seen moving parts that need to come together to ensure an organization or agency will reach their organizational goals including people, profits and purpose. On a basic level, my job is to create community. No one said building bridges and/or coming together would be easy. In fact, our leaders have died in an attempt to bring people together.
The thing is “we” is you and I and your slightly racist uncle. “We” is my progressive, white gay best friend. “We” is the Afro-Latina CEO from DC and the PhD African-American male from Fayettville, GA and the hard working Irish man from Detroit.
TII is leading a hard conversation on race and with it’s many layers and forms, we begin with you.
What is missing from the conversation around race and police brutality?