Guest editorial: The work of ending racism starts with each of us
The past few days have brought about lots of discourse in this town over race, policing and politics. It’s clear that racism is alive and well in Park City. Racism is the product of the bigger problem that is white supremacy/ideology which is controlling this nation. This needs to be addressed, discussed and solved or else we will continue to marginalize people of color in this country.
Several issues have been raised about the Black Lives Matters mural on Main Street, and I want to tackle them here and provide some tangible steps to move forward with.
Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter: Using the term Black Lives Matter in no way diminishes the fact that All Lives Matter. BLM is a statement aimed at equality for people of color. Changing the conversation to state All Lives Matter is a diversion from the real problem of systemic racism in this country. All lives certainly matter, but people of color are currently under the weight of white privilege. White people have had a several hundred-year head start on people of color. Lyndon B. Johnson said, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.” It’s time to level the playing field and Black Lives Matter is pushing for that as well as other goals.
Police are good: Yes, the majority of individual police officers are good people. However, they’re operating in a system that has its roots in slavery, transitioned to the Jim Crow Laws, and into what is our modern-day incarceration-focused policing. Being tough on crime is a political position, but it masks the reality that those laws are biased towards keeping people of color in their place. Police officers should not be social workers, therapists or other mental health professionals. This is the impetus behind the defund-the-police movement, not the complete disbanding of police departments. Our police forces have for years shifted to a militarized force that is more about dominating their populace rather than actually practicing community policing. Let this sink in, the rules of engagement for police in the U.S. are looser than those I followed as a Marine operator in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Black-on-Black crime: Another deflection has been about focusing on black-on-black crime, not the smaller number of blacks killed by police. No one is saying that black-on-black crime is not a problem. The problem is there is an underlying lack of trust in the police by people of color. When the police arrive, people of color either go to jail or, in the worst cases, are killed. White people might go to jail and have zero fear of being killed during a traffic stop. If you spend time on SSRN or other academic sites, you’ll know that high violent crimes are almost always intraracial.
It’s time to acknowledge racism is a problem due to implicit bias and change our ways. This problem won’t die off with generations; more is caught than taught. It’s time to educate ourselves and our children, expose ourselves to different cultures in true and meaningful ways, and have compassion for others. You have control over your own sphere of influence: home, church, government, school, business and workplace. Take actions to make a small change each day in those places, but the work starts with you.
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