Nakia Jones, a police officer in Northeast Ohio (where I’m from), has gotten over 5 million views with a video she made in response to Alton Sterling’s murder by police in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.
In the video, Jones, a 20-year veteran of law enforcement, addresses fellow officers directly, saying–
How dare you stand next to me in the same uniform and murder somebody. How dare you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you’re that officer and you know you have a God complex and you’re afraid of people who don’t look like you, you have no business wearing the uniform. Take it off.
I’m not an idealist or idiot; I know there is no way that hundreds or thousands of cops with biases against different races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations are going to resign from law enforcement in order to protect the safety of people they don’t even respect or regard as equals.
Law enforcement remains one of the few fields in which men and women that have not received bachelor’s degrees or trained in a highly skilled trade can make decent wages and receive workable insurance coverages and pensions, and people are not going to give up their “stuff” to save the lives of strangers. That’s just how people are.
Too, working in law enforcement confers power and preferential treatment onto people that would probably not get it otherwise–people that would be regarded as “average” if not for their badges and professional privileges.
Remaining on the force despite having psychological or psychiatric issues that get in the way of them doing their job effectively is just too tempting for too many officers, especially when breaking their oath and crossing the line of legality with their behavior has little to no consequence in a court of law.
Still, I think Nakia Jones makes a salient point when she hits on the concept of disclosure in her video.
While I think an officer that is fearful shouldn’t be allowed to patrol the streets at all, an officer that prefers to patrol certain streets and not others should be allowed–and even encouraged–to impart his or her preferences to his or superiors.
Yes–I think police officers should be able to disclose their antipathies or animosities toward certain populations and/or communities, without losing their jobs, so they can work where they are most comfortable and won’t be impelled by bigotry or hatred to be unnecessarily or unethically violent.
I think that Americans–as an entire nation–need to stop being delusional about our ability to tolerate racial differences and stop forcing people into these inauthentic moral and ethical poses and postures that they almost always betray, often times to the extreme detriment of the people around them.
You cannot force people to change their minds. You cannot force people to accept what they don’t want or open their hearts to something that they regard as harmful or hateful. You can’t make people act fairly or decently if they have no desire.
You can’t make people love or even like, and it takes more than PSAs and handbooks full of rules and regulations to stop them from being unfair or illogical in their thinking about others.
And while we can continue to try to reorient, reeducate, and recondition people’s beliefs and attitudes about racial and sexual differences, we need to buffer communities of color and LGBTQIA communities from things like police terrorism in the meantime.
Fuck political correctness. Black people need help. LGBTQIA people need help. And America owes it to us. Says its laws.
Political correctness and diversity have become the gold standards for professional conduct and hiring practices in this country. The media propagates this ideal of the “moral” person that exhibits his or her goodness by being tolerant of difference, and Americans, being the Puritans that we are–being so superficial, impractical, and pretentious–pretend like we want to live up to it.
When the truth is defining ourselves in hierarchical opposition to others makes us feel better about ourselves as we navigate in a world whose indifference to our so-called specialness makes us feel like fucking specks of nothing.
When the truth is most Americans draw great comfort from our bigotry, in whatever terrible form it takes.
Now, I can get on my soapbox about the stupidity of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia–how wrong they all are–how destructive they all are–but what I cannot do after the last 48 hours–in which police have unjustly murdered two black men–is wait for those messages to absorb on a large and meaningful scale.
To me, America needs solutions–workable steps that we can take to improve the ways that police officers’ biases play out in this nation’s streets.
And while we’re at it, we need to do something about the wide gaps in the way black students are treated in public schools in comparison to their white peers, and black patients are treated in hospitals in comparison to white patients.
So I say let employees in law enforcement, education, and medicine–in which people’s safety and well-being hinge on healthy (supportive and nurturing) interaction–select the specific circumstances in which they work, as much as they can do that.
Because police officers, doctors, and teachers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility of protecting people’s lives, so they need to be positioned where they can do their best and most beneficial work.
They need to be able to say, “I can’t put my beliefs about ______________ aside effectively enough to do my job the way it should be done,” so that job can be passed on to someone that can and will do it well.
At this point, I don’t care if that creates segregation within certain institutions. Until Americans become emotionally and psychologically mature and serious enough to handle the diversity we pretend to want, we need to stop dabbling in this dangerous throwing together of different, diametrically opposed people with weapons, instruments, unchecked power, ignorance, arrogance, and/or ill intentions.
It’s costing too many lives. Too many black lives. Too many LGBTQIA lives. Look at Louisiana. Look at Minnesota. Look at Florida.
Shit, look at Texas.
The cops ambushed by snipers in Dallas paid the price for what other cops in other cities did to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile–things they might not have done if they’d been dealing with white men.
I know how “bad” all of this probably seems to minds that have been primed since grade school by togetherness propaganda, but, until we get to the mythical, egalitarian “there” of interpersonal harmony imagined by activists and freedom fighters, I can’t help myself.
I can’t keep pretending like political correctness and forced efforts to create diversity are making things better for my people because they’re decidedly not.
The Declaration of Independence that we just celebrated on Monday says it is self-evident that all men are equal and endowed with certain rights to freedom. But the truth evidenced by the unforgivable violence of the last two days says that I’m not equal, and I can’t expect equal treatment under law.
I can’t expect protection or justice from cops that are spurred to action by skewed training and racist opinions.
So, I say–change the personnel policies that force people to fake moral convictions. Allow cops to pick their patrols, doctors to pick their patients, and teachers to pick their students to ensure that they can do their jobs wholeheartedly and fairly.
I want America to be free and brave just like the next person, of course I do, but I also want to be here and breathing.
I want my people to be safe and sane. I want my family and friends to be whole and happy.
I want my blackness and body to be consecrated and loved.