Home > Uncategorized > NJ Legislation Validates NY Op Ed Writer’s Assertion that Racism is Alive and Well… And Minority Children in NJ Need to Learn How to Deal With It.

NJ Legislation Validates NY Op Ed Writer’s Assertion that Racism is Alive and Well… And Minority Children in NJ Need to Learn How to Deal With It.

June 26, 2017

I read two articles in succession this morning whose messages intertwined. After reading an op ed article in the NYTimes by Ibra Kendi how we are “Sacrificing Black Lives for the American Lie“, I read a Truthdig post by Emma Niles described a bill passed by the NY Legislature that mandates instruction in K-12 public schools “learn how to deal with police”. Both articles cited the fact that black men are arrested at a rates that are much higher than whites: nine times as often at the national level and an even more shameful twelve times as often as whites in New Jersey.

Wendi’s article describes the needless killings of innocent blacks by police officers and the subsequent findings of innocence by juries as evidence that racism is alive and well. He suggests that the remedy for this problem of police officers over-reacting is to make our country aware of the deep seated racism that exists.

To diagnose police officers’ lethal fears as racist, juries and prosecutors would also have to diagnose their own fears of black bodies as racist. That is a tall task. It may even be easier to get a racist cop convicted of murdering a black person than it is to get a racist American to acknowledge his or her own racism. Racist Americans keep justice as far away from black death as possible to keep the racist label as far away from themselves as possible.

But this can change. Killing the post-racial myth and confessing racism is the first step toward antiracism. Police officers can recognize that label as the start of their better selves instead of the end of their careers. Americans can recognize that label as an opening to a just future.

Black people and the post-racial myth cannot both live in the United States of America.

Evidently New Jersey has a different solution, though. Instead of appealing to police officers to “appeal to their better selves” legislators in that state see the problem as one of the potential victims. Their solution?

…require K-12 students to be taught how to interact with police officers “in a manner marked by mutual cooperation and respect.”

Where Kendra sees the issue of police killing innocent black and brown children as one of racism, the NJ legislator’s see it as an issue of black and brown children failing to be cooperative or respectful. Tell that to the parents of Tamir Rice in Cleveland or the children of Philandro Castile in Minneapolis or any number of the parents and children of the innocent African Americans killed by police because the police “feared for their lives”.

In this era of plentiful guns and homicides I appreciate the fear that police officers experience on a daily basis, particularly in urban areas. But I cannot see how requiring instruction on cooperation and respect for police officers will solve the underlying problems of racism and the abundance of firearms. The NJ legislators would be better off passing bills to redraw attendance lines for schools to increase integration, to provide more funding for poverty stricken school districts, and to make it more difficult for children to use guns.

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