Another reader joins the discussion:
As an Afro-American, I want to address the cop who said “of course there are racist cops – there are racists in every profession – but I don’t think cops as a whole are more racist than other professionals”. I don’t know if this is true or not, but while it does seem plausible, it completely misses the point.
First, cops aren’t just “any other profession.” They are armed and have enormous power. When they take a life, there is a implicit presumption of innocence that most other professions do not have. Because of this, we need to hold them to a higher standard. Further, being a cop is a very dangerous profession, so rightly so, cops are always on the lookout for their own safety. This makes the the consequence of their bias far greater than that of most other professions.
Second, to really understand this situation you have to realize that some of the worst racism that many blacks have received have been at the hands of other black people.
In fact, this very often comes from black people who live in black neighborhoods and have only black friends and married to their black spouse. This may seem strange and rare thing, but it is actually quite common. The reason is that there is an implicit message in our culture that to be black is somehow to be less worthy and less beautiful and just less in general. There’s no conspiracy to teach this, but rather it is an insidious legacy that we carry from our past. The truth that no one wants to say is that it is hard for any of us (including blacks) to avoid learning these deeply flawed lesson. I’m convinced that for most, the only way to truly not being racist is admit that these false images exist in our culture and do the personal work it takes to say “no” to it.
Lastly, we’re discussing this topic as if there is actually a debate. There have been studies performed about this and the numbers don’t lie. One example that comes to mind is the statistic that blacks and whites use marijuana in near-equal percentages, but blacks are incarcerated at a much higher rate. This is the very injustice that has fueled the decriminalization across the country. I believe I’ve also read something similar regarding NYC’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics.
So there’s really no question as to whether blacks and whites are treated equally. The only thing we learn from the Post/ABC poll is that most whites either don’t know the facts or choose to deny them. This isn’t really surprising, as it is only natural to understand the complexities of struggles that you have experienced while completely not understanding the struggle of others.