Hello Meltingpot Readers,
Did you watch the debates last night? I did. I laughed, I cried, I threw my slipper at the TV. Overall, I thought Hillary Clinton did a fine job pretending she was actually in a presidential debate rather than the shit show she was forced to endure with Trump and his kindergarten bully tactics and Lester Holt’s inability to shut Trump down every time he went down a rambling rabbit hole of nonsense. But there was a really good point that Hillary Clinton made that I’m sure will get
overlooked misinterpreted in all of the rehashing by political pundits. And that was her point about Implicit Bias.
Clinton said, “I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other, and therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions like, ‘Why am I feeling this way?‘”
Some people, mostly
Republicans, Trump supporters, are using Hillary’s words to suggest she’s saying that all Americans are racist and therefore she’s insulting the American people. But the truth is, we are all biased and/or racist. Hillary has obviously done her homework and learned about the Implicit Association Test spearheaded by researchers at Harvard University. The test measures people’s unconscious attitudes towards just about everything. In their own words, the researchers are tying to determine the “gap between intentions and actions.”
In my new book, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families (Beacon), I looked at some of the findings from the Implicit Association Test (IAT), specifically those related to skin color and discovered that 70 percent of the millions of people who have taken the IAT, associate light skin with positive attributes and dark skin with negative ones. That is only one fact gleaned from the study, but others pretty much support the idea that the majority of Americans are biased against Brown and Black people.
What does that mean for our country? Here’s what I think. Once we acknowledge that everyone is biased against people who look a certain way, then we can in fact, retrain the police (Since the police seem to be the ones who can subdue a White man with a gun but have to slaughter any Black man or child for breathing the wrong way, we’re going to start with the police, but eventually all Americans will need anti-bias training.). While the police are in the training process, however, I think we should take away their guns. That’s right, I said it. We should disarm the police. That’s not crazy talk. That’s looking at what works around the world in countries where the police don’t murder their own citizens.
It’s really quite simple. If the police are human (they are), and they live in the United States (they do), then they are susceptible to the dangerous and false narrative that people of color are expendable. They have swallowed the Kool-Aid mixed up by our forefathers and served for the past 400 years on a tray of lies by our government, educators, media and politicians. We can’t really blame them for being biased because we all are – even Black and Brown police officers are biased against other Black and Brown people – but we also can’t expect them to stop killing us (and by us I mean Black people, Latino people, Asian people, Native people and all of the other colored folk who aren’t as valuable as White people.) until we deprogram them. Yes, the police need to be de-programmed. First they need to recognize their bias and then they need to understand that their mandate is to protect and serve all people, not just the lighter hued. They also need to stop policing like they are in the middle of a war zone, when in fact they are on traffic duty.
Putting guns in the hands of police officers who associate people of color with monsters, criminals, animals, drug dealers, rapists, cheaters and un-American activities, seems like a sure-fire way to annihilate Black and Brown people. So, take their guns away. Let them learn how to police without deadly force. Think how many of the recent police killings would have been avoided. Tamir Rice would be at school right now. Walter Scott might have a parking ticket but he’d be at home with his family. Bottom line is, if our police force is biased and armed we can only expect more killings of people deemed not worthy of saving.
Chew on that!
*Note, I truly believe the police should be disarmed. Not all police but many of those on routine duty. If it works in major cities like London, it can work in our cities.
*Note 2. If we were to disarm our police force in significant ways, then we would have to get serious about reforming our gun laws and getting guns out of the hands of many citizens as well.
*Note 3. I realize that disarming our police force and our citizens is almost an impossible idea due to the gun lobby etc, but still, where there is political will, there is a way. Always.
*Note 4. Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who has the good sense to even consider reforming our gun laws and retraining our police force.
*Note 5. Don’t forget to Vote!