White Voices About White Racism Matter to Black Lives

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 03: People hold hands during a rally lead by faith leaders in front of city hall calling for justice in response to the death of Freddie Gray on May 3, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray later died in custody; the Maryland state attorney announced on Friday that charges would be brought against the six police officers who arrested Gray. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

If Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were white they would still be alive today.

White people need to admit this.

We need to stop rationalizing the killing of young black men at the hands of police.

They are being murdered because of the color of their skin—and it’s disgusting.

We can say this without condemning all law enforcement officers. Of course we do.

We can even say this without condemning most law enforcement officers. We absolutely do.

But we should condemn these ones and the ones who disregard the humanity of people of color—and you better believe we do.

We have to look this all too familiar ugliness in the face, white America.

We have to call it out when it parades itself in front of us every week in crystal clear video. 

We can’t rationalize theses deaths away or make excuses or act as if our eyes aren’t really seeing what they are seeing as they are shot repeatedly.

Most white people know what we see, we just need the stones to say it:

Systemic racism is still alive and well in America and it is still killing young black men.

We can’t be okay with this.

We can’t contend that the rules are the same for people of color.

We can’t pretend that the justice system is an equal opportunity entity.

We can’t act as though staying alive is simply a matter of “staying out of trouble”.

To paraphrase Pastor Eugene Cho, we can’t allow people to be killed, and then assassinate their character to make it okay.

For as far as we’ve come we are not at all where we need to be, not while black parents have to teach their children to fear the police, not while people of color are incarcerated at exponentially higher rates than whites, and not while men like Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice (a 12-year old child) continue to be snuffed out at the hands of people who are specifically taught to de-escalate tense situations, who are supposed to model restraint, men and women who are charged with protecting and serving all life equally.

And those of us who have every advantage also have a responsibility to speak. We have a responsibility to name bigotry. We have a responsibility to demand justice. We have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable.

As a white man I realize that I’ll never escape some inherent racism. It’s built into my operating system. My whiteness and nearly five decades in the cushy shoes of privilege will continue to create blind spots for me that are almost impossible to discern without a great deal of self-awareness, a lot of help, and a teachable spirit. And even then, despite every way that I try to stay aware of it, I will still unknowingly participate in both personal and systematic discrimination.

But I refuse to participate in this.

I refuse to be a white apologist for the mortal sins of other white people.

The only color my allegiance is to, is the identical red that runs through the veins of all of humanity.

Alton Sterling’s blood. Michael Brown’s. Freddie Gray’s. Tamir Rice’s. My son’s. My own. Yours.

I’m calling racism what it is, and not something that is less offensive to those who don’t believe black lives matter enough to say that they matter.

I am not going to let my brothers and sisters of color grieve or fight or live or die alone by staying silent.

This silence it is consent.

This silence is blessing.

This silence is participation.

Of course we don’t need to indict all members of law enforcement who do some of the most difficult work on the planet, but if we can’t call out even these most egregious displays of disregard for human life, we have no chance to admitting and copping to and addressing the subtle, more insidious discrimination in our systems and our hearts.

White people we need to wake up—and we need to go to work.

We need to be in the trenches and in the streets and in the political process alongside people of color to demand equality.

We need to be as loud as the most hateful of our own friends and families and coworkers. 

If not, we’re the problem. 

My faith compels me to demand that all people be treated as though they are made in the image of God.

My homeland declares that all men and women are created equal in the eyes of the law.

I will no longer deny my faith or my country by accepting the unmerited death of Alton Sterling or any other man of color.

It’s time for the white people who say “not all white people are racist” to call out those white people who are—or we are too. If we refuse to stand up for the humanity of our brothers and sisters of color we forfeit our own.

I don’t know how to change things, but I know that saying and doing nothing will ensure that we’ll soon be eulogizing another black man.

And I won’t have that on my hands.

Black lives matter.

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125 thoughts on “White Voices About White Racism Matter to Black Lives

  1. Racism is not a problem of Black people, Brown people, or any people of color. Racism is a problem of white people like me and most who will read this. People of Color cannot “fix” racism. They have never been able to fix it. No minority community/population can “fix” what has been imposed on them by the majority community/population.

    The ONLY people who can someday bring an end to most of the racism in our society is white people. It’s time we got up off our butts and began to honestly address this issue.

    John is very clear and very correct. I would pose a simple question: When will we teach law enforcement officers to shoot to disarm or disable rather than shoot to kill? Unless someone is firing at you, why not shoot them in ways other than to kill them?

    The problem of racism remains a white problem. When will we give addressing it more than lip service? When will we, as white people of faith, start living out the Gospel in loving each other as we love ourselves? The time has come…..it’s long past come.

    • It’s just not a white problem but a people problem. It’s a myth that blacks aren’t racist nor are Latinos or Orientals. They are as racist as the rest of us. To deny this is wrong. All nationalities need to accept all nationalities as equal. Until this occurs we each work on ourselves.

      • Racism and bigotry aren’t the same thing. Yes, people of all colors are bigots. But in our country, the bigots also have power and guns. When you add power to bigotry, you have racism. Denying that whites also have the power to enforce their bigotry is called “white privilege.” Don’t be that guy.

      • Greg, by definition the minority group is not racist. They may be bigoted but they are not racist. I don’t know if you have had any anti-racism training, but that is part of what is discussed. We white males enjoy “white male privilege” in the United States. We can deny that all we want but it is true. There is no time to go into it here…..it takes a class and a village to teach this. Please do some research on the topic. You seem to have good intentions but you are way off base with the subject.

      • Bruh… Orientals? That is very much not what they are called. They are Asians or people of Asian descent. Please work harder on yourself.

        • AKJ,
          They were called Orientals until after 9/11. For whatever reason, our government then began calling Orientals and even Egyptians, “Asians.”

      • The most biased reply anyone can make is, “I am not biased.” Of all the rhetoric I hear from African-Americans on television none of it contains statements admitting their own biases. Proclaiming their own faults and shortcomings would help.

        Yes, I despise the “good-old-boy network” that would never give me a chance, the one that beat me out of promotions and good positions. Since I can’t change it, I had to accept the wicked thing the way it is. Yes, I know it’s institutionalized and promotes people who do not deserve the position.

        I’m not black but, being white has never benefited me.

        • BeBe
          You wrote:” Of all the rhetoric I hear from African-Americans on television none of it contains statements admitting their own biases. Proclaiming their own faults and shortcomings would help.”

          There are actual cases of White cops who have used excessive force having text messages with racial slurs. Would you feel better if a Black cop who killed an unarmed White person, and whose text messages contain racial slurs, set the standard for White cops who do the same to admit their bias?

    • I have a friend who is the grandson of a former Knox County Sheriff (The Head of the department—not a deputy). He asked that same question to his grandfather:

      “Why don’t you shoot people in nonvital areas rather than shoot to kill.”

      Here was his grandfather’s honest response from probably 50 years of law enforcement experience in a county that has close to 1,000,000 people.

      We shoot to kill for two reasons:

      1) It eliminates the key witness on the opposing side as to what actually occurred during the stop and arrest process. If he is dead, he cannot dispute the arrest report and testify against the officer in court.

      2) It prevents a merely injured person from suing the police department on civil charges that the police crippled him and fixed them to where they would never be able to perform a job. Police and sheriff departments cannot afford to have $5,000,000 civil lawsuits and do not have the resources to pay. Dead people cannot file civil lawsuits.

      The thing that gets me Bruce is that if you present those cold, hard answers from a real law enforcement officer to people, no one is outraged by it. They will just sit there in dumb silence like: “Oh, that is pretty good thinking.” Yeah, if it is the teenage son of someone else that a cop killed. But what if it were your teenage son.

    • Bruce,

      I appreciate your passion, and agree with you on many of your statements. However, you have been watching to many TV shows. It is not that easy to shoot, especially under stress, even by those who have been professionally trained.

    • To say that law enforcement is taught to kill is incorrect… Escalation of force and what to do if you must pull your weapon, is taught repeatedly… Does everyone follow their training in every situation? No, but to they’re only trained to kill is incorrect.

      • Byron, I would have agreed with you until yesterday when a white police officer announced on a christian forum that he would have done the same thing based on his training. HE told US that he is trained to shoot for the largest area of mass, the chest. HE told us that HE is trained to shoot KILL SHOTS! I was horrified but it was what he said.

    • One of the best friends I have ever had was an African-American. My experience was that she saw racism often where there wasn’t any. One example: We are in a restaurant waiting for our order. It didn’t occur to me to even thing anyone was discriminating against me when other people were served before we were. When she started claiming racism, I pointed out that it takes longer to cook some orders and some people who have limited time call ahead.

      What I have observed in my own life is that I and some other white people, know and understand African-Americans far better than they understand us. For any changes to take place it will take African-Americans also getting some diversity training. The problem isn’t just on ONE side you know and scapegoating white people will not solve it.

    • Your truth is compelling! My 12 year old grandson says “why do we use tranquilizer guns to stop animals that might attack us but bullets to kill people that we want to stop?” I have no answer…bullets kill, tranquilizer guns subdue. Someone prioritized the value of subduing the life of an anmial over that of taking a human life and we became OK with that!

  2. There is sheer beauty in hearing the thoughts from the voices of my Caucasian brothers and sisters!! ????????????????????????. I am obviously an American Negro. I have friends I’d give my life for and yet experience the hatred of others as well. My heart aches for not only the families of these lives taken so unjustly, my family is one of the families you’d never hear about, it also bleeds profusely, a survivor of the same biased judicial system. My life was forever altered at the age of 14 when my brother was killed, by the hands of a cop and the cooperation of other whites who participated OR refused to tell the truth. 35 years later…there is no change in the way “things” are done. Today, it isn’t just our men that are being killed, the entire family is in danger for our women and girls are being raped and killed along with our men and boys being brutalized and murdered. The real truth is that we will never fully understand each other, but we can agree to LIVE peaceably! My faith in God compels me to believe this is possible; yet this world order, if I look at it long enough, will persuade me to seek revenge. I KNOW we cannot be successful without your uniting with us (together we STAND, divided I die). I look forward to not having to place a color in front of man or woman to describe someone. I look forward to ALL of us becoming blind and only operating from a heart truly given over to godly love. Rest in peace my neighbor, my friend, my son, my brother, my uncle, my nephew, my father…

    Thank you John

    • I am so sad for you and agree with almost everything in your comment, except I don’t want us to be colorblind. I want us to celebrate our human diversity and embrace the idea that different cultures enrich us all. Beauty comes in all shapes and skin colors. Seeing it and believing it is the only answer.

  3. If all the human inhabitants of this planet suddenly lost their sight and their hearing, would we still find ways to discriminate against each other?

  4. Good, solid words.

    Tim Wise made a good comment as well: “We racialize black dysfunction and individualize white dysfunction because of white supremacy.”

    And I think that white Christians have a moral, religious obligation to stand up and use their voices *and their bodies* to protest this treatment of our brothers and sisters.

    Where would Jesus be in America today?

    • If there was any “white supremacy” I have never benefited from it and neither has anyone I know. It seems dishonest to me for African-Americans who certainly have more privileges than myself, to point a finger at me with hate and accuse ME of have that so called advantage.
      Understanding goes both ways. If an African-American wants me to understand them they have to contribute something other than hatred to the conversation.

      • You are dead set on not getting it. I cant for the life of me wrap my head around why some aren’t getting it. All WE want is equality and fairness and to live peacefully. Our differences are condemned and as a black woman I feel hopeless. I am sitting here crying because I cant understand how you don’t see it. I came across this website because I searched “How to explain the Black Lives Matter movement to white people” and I was so glad I stumbled upon your blog John. Thank you for your empathy.

        I watched a documentary yesterday and a white woman commented that she had a black girl in her class and when that little black girl fell down and scraped her face it showed pink (like everyone else) but this woman stated that she didn’t think that it would be pink. That baffled me because I treat people equally, I respect the police and the military but to see black men being gunned down like animals in the street with no regard for their life or their family is so disheartening. And please don’t mention that blacks kill blacks everyday; yes, they do but they are also arrested and sentenced if not killed themselves. We just want justice and equality.

        I haven’t prayed yet, I don’t know how much it would do. I’m in a constant state of anxiety right now. I apologize for the long rant but for days now I have read comments such as yours and this was the last straw I had to say something. I don’t comment on social media and I wont respond with negativity. I love life and I plan to live it a long time but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. And I am also extremely upset about the five police officers who were gunned down in Dallas. My heart is with their families as well. See I can be heartbroken for both because its all senseless violence.

        I hope you have a great night and I hope this country will rise up and do better as a whole.

        • I appreciate what u have said and I feel sadness too. I wish things were better in our country/ world. I do what I can to make this world a better place and appreciate the diverse friends who i have been privileged to have.
          I am doing all I can to put my energies into what seems to create love, balance, healing and all good things while acknowledging the shadow.
          My life has not been easy but I have to admit that at times I can hide behind the advantages of having white skin.

        • Lauren, I have been thinking about your comment ever since I read it a few days ago.

          I wish what you say — and even more, what you have experienced — were not so. But it is.

          I wish that white Americans, ESPECIALLY white Christians, were not so ignorant and committed to ignorance and bigotry as they are. But they are.

          I am a white Christian male with a lifetime of blessings and enjoyment, and were you to ask me if I was racist or enjoying my blessings because of ingrained, domesticated white supremacy, I would have denied six ways to Sunday, and then gone to church to worship my God, pleased with my testimony of his blessings and free to be blessed again by the God of my own self-image

          It’s taken some very rough interventions by people in my life to begin the transformation to someone free of present-day racism. One of my now-dearest friends had to stop me short and demand that I see him as black and all that it meant. It was the final shock to get me to at least start the process. (I don’t get a gold star for this; becoming less racist is, I think, what we should be trying to do anyway if we are at all committed to truth and justice and love.)

          In the years since that first encounter I have had to work very hard to untwist the sin of racism from my life. I am not entirely successful and am not entirely done. (Not even close, frankly.)

          And what I have learned, as an echo of your life experiences, is that my white friends and family are doggedly determined not to listen or consider anything that would shake them from their invincible ignorance layered over their confident belief that they are “normal” because they’re white and that they’ve done nothing wrong in accepting the status quo which has given them so much solely because they are white.

          I can barely ever get across anything, and I’ve been working to do that for years to my own. I cannot imagine what it is like to attempt to bridge the gap to the stranger and the determinedly hostile.

          It is probably wearying for you. I know it is for me, and I only get the reflection.

          But I wanted to tell you, you are enough. You are a wonderful, compassionate, open, honest, even fearless person (even though you say you get scared). You’ve been having to deal with people like me your whole life, and you haven’t given up.

          It shouldn’t have to be so hard. It is, and I’m sorry, and I’ll admit that it isn’t enough to say that. I don’t know that I can do much more than that, though I am working on myself, with the people I interact, and in the community of faith and in my job to do what I can to bring justice and fairness and just plain decency and common human courtesy.

          • Thank you Stephen for courageously looking intentionally at another then making the efforts to unearth biases in your own life and engaging others to do the same. I appreciate you and others who are doing the same. #TheStruggleIsReal

      • White supremacy is a set of ideologies that believe that Whites are better than those of darker complexion. White privilege is not the same thing.

      • The color of skin that is nonwhite is relegated to a world that precludes them privilege while “being white” affords all that privilege entails even if you’re poor, disabled, uneducated, criminal or otherwise challenged or not. The point is the privilege is not continent upon whether you receive or believe it….it’s a given for whites and not so for nonwhites. Perhaps this will help you better understand why even if you don’t feel or think you’ve ever benefited from the privilege, it is not negated as a reality in the America in which we live.

  5. I live in Chicago. I am living in a war zone. The killings of black men, women, children each week is undeniably horrific.
    Racism is everyone’s problem, not just whites, or police. The police are not killing these people, white people aren’t killing innocent children. This is black -on- black crime against each other. When is someone going to speak out about the the egregious displays of disregard for human life in the black community? Last weekend 12 people were killed and over 40 injured. Two of the victims killed were an 8 yr. old and a 15 yr, old… children. They weren’t killed by the police or white people.

    Where’s the outrage, uprisings, marches, protests in the black community when and 8 yr.old is executed in the alley behind his house as gang retribution? This is racism ..black-on black disregard for human life. I cannot stop this horrendous problem, the police cannot stop this war in the streets of Chicago. It takes the whole community, to scream from the rooftops enough!

    I’m sorry John, but this time I have to disagree with you. Jesus would never say “Black lives matter”. Jesus would say “ALL lives matter”.
    “ALL lives are made in my image”. He would mourn the loss of any person, man, woman, or child killed with hatred, not just Alton Sterling.

    • It’s also racism because we white people have the luxury of not noticing when black people kill one another, of throwing up our hands and saying, “Why don’t they just stop it?”

      Of course Jesus would say that all lives matter. Jesus would also say, “Black lives matter,” because black lives are the ones that are too often disregarded, and if there’s one thing we know about Jesus (and his Father), it is that they stand solidly on the side of people who are disregarded by dominant society.

    • For God’s sake please quit yelling “Chicago!” every time a white police officer executes a black man. Yes, we all know the black President is from Chicago. Yes, we all know Chicago is a war zone. Neither of those facts has ANYTHING to do with systemic racism in American law enforcement. BTW, “Black Lives Matter” means “Black Lives Don’t Matter Less.” It doesn’t mean “White Lives Don’t Matter.”

    • There ARE protests and outrage against black on black crime!!! Just because you don’t see it or its not picked up by the news doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And I guess we have to say Black Lives Matter, ALSO for you to understand because that is what it is about. I think Jesus would say that, don’t you.

    • Chicago has a reputation that goes back to the days of the mob. Gangs are current day mobs. Most of the killings are in retribution for another killing. A majority of those cases end with someone being charged and sentenced to prison.

  6. I walk the tightrope; I’ve had “The Talk” with all three of my sons (currently 28, 25 and 23)…..

    My sons have a slight advantage…they are all very light-skinned (and it does and has made a difference) – their father is white, born in Lausanne, Switzerland. But, they are still black males.

    As long as there are people seen as Not Normative (and Normative in the United States of America, IS white, male, heterosexual Christian), they will be and are targets for the power structures of society.

    It is incidents like this that make me wish there were Vulcans, Time Lords, Romulans, Daleks, Hutts, – while I know that the vast interstellar distances make encountering extraterrestrial life highly unlikely (unless someone finds a way to fuel the Alcubierre Warp Drive [yes, Virginia, there is such a thing – Dr. Miguel Alcubierre’s tensor solution to relativity]) – if humankind should encounter extraterrestrials, perhaps it would realize that there is ONE RACE – the human race.

    Of course we’d then have ‘District 9’ sorts of issues to deal with…..sigh

  7. John,
    As a retired white police officer, I say you are spot on. This has not been easy for me to accept, but after much observation within my profession and much reflection post-career, I have to acknowledge the systemic problem in criminal justice, which flows from the overall built-in racism in our country. I write about this in order to try bringing awareness to my peers, and more importantly, current officers. My visceral belief is that confronting these issues honestly and unflinchingly is the only answer. We can no longer insist “but most cops are good!” when most of those “good” cops look the other way when the bad actors commit their next heinous act.

    I witnessed much integrity and absolute bravery in my 25 years of law enforcement. But I also witnessed racist behavior, improper or illegal arrests, indifference to humanity, bullying, lying, failure to admit wrongdoing, and abject failure to hold bad cops accountable.

    This, to me, is the issue, and I’ve written about it:
    “Police officers are in a uniquely powerful position. No other profession is entrusted with as much discretionary ability to change the course of our day or our lives, depending on the outcome of our interactions. A cop can take your freedom or your life in a second. Likewise, the cop’s life can end in a split second.”

    For this reason, we must change our standards and training. Not everyone can or should be the police. And when we identify those individuals, they must be eliminated from policing. Right now, the dirty little secret is that many of these officers who get into trouble are simply told to leave–certification intact–and then move onto another agency to do more harm. If you examine the background of far too many of the officers in the news, the sad truth is that often they have checkered histories. We must start by purging those who should not be cops.

    Beyond that, training mindsets have to change to stress life. The life of all citizens. I will say openly that I agree with you. I believe those officers who responded to the call for Alton Sterling would have treated him much differently if he were white. They would have calmly explained upon arrival that they received a call regarding someone with a weapon, and asked him if he had one. Then, they would have told him to place his hands on his head or the table, and not reach for it. They would have taken the pistol from his pocket, secured it and then began talking to him. Maybe handcuffed him, but initially, probably not, because of the presumption that a white man has the right to carry. Truth.

    Training has to evolve to raise awareness about our innate bias and incorporate that into dynamic role play, not just static diversity training that doesn’t explore how it affects how cops do THE JOB. Racism is alive and well in our country and in policing. We must do better. Law enforcement is much too important to allow less than our 100% best to wear a badge.

    • This, to me, is the issue, and I’ve written about it:
      “Police officers are in a uniquely powerful position. No other profession is entrusted with as much discretionary ability to change the course of our day or our lives, depending on the outcome of our interactions. A cop can take your freedom or your life in a second. Likewise, the cop’s life can end in a split second.”

      Law enforcement individuals are only human and are not immune to making mistakes, we have to give them some room in their day to day judgment calls. Why then are people at large not respecting that authority? Could it be that law enforcement officials have been exposed to the mindset of the black community that they are more likely to not recognize their authority and therefore react with more force to counter this condition? Do you think that the lack of a good role model type father figure in the predominately black community has anything to do with this? Maybe the root problem isn’t racism but relational-ism within families or communities?

      • People like you are the reason we keep seeing the same tape roll over and over again, a refusal to acknowledge reality. Keep your head in the sand while these thing s are going on but don’t pull it out to make comments that have no basis in the real reality. The trouble is that law enforcement have room in their day to day operations to kill and maime people of color. They make it their business. That’s why so many have died at their hands. Listen to the former law enforcement officer and get a clue. Perhaps the laws should say, “Open carry is for whites only and obedience of police officers is only for people of color.”

        • Mary

          For the record, I feel sorry that this man lost his life. It shouldn’t have happened the way it did.

          Is this really the reality in our world?

          The trouble is that law enforcement have room in their day to day operations to kill and maime people of color. They make it their business.

          Do you really believe that law enforcement personnel go out every day just to kill and maim others? I don’t. I don’t believe that and I’ll bet a lot of other folks don’t believe that as well. Just who is living in reality here and who isn’t? You might want to peek your head out your door and stop living behind the mass media machine’s hype and your internal fears and convolutions about other’s intentions.

          I thought that most of the folks on here believed that people are inherently good. Your beliefs seem to differ about the nature of people, if not just law enforcement.

          Just to rattle your cage a little more, have you actually seen the “numbers” of the different types of people who have died at the hands of law enforcement? Here is a link with some of that info. Get informed! Please!

          http://www.dailywire.com/news/7264/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler

          Oh, and, FYI…this says a lot about your racial prejudices and disposition towards personnel of authority.

          Perhaps the laws should say, “Open carry is for whites only and obedience of police officers is only for people of color.”

          The problem with this situation wasn’t open carry, it appeared to be resisting arrest, defiance of authority. Something that seemed to perpetuate throughout his life (he had a record). Do you think he might have lived if he would have had a greater respect for authority in this day and age instead of a lesser respect for it? Quite possibly so.

          Just so that you don’t misjudge me, I think it would be great if EVERYONE had the privilege to open carry and I believe that EVERYONE should obey laws and those who are put in a position of authority.

    • Thank you for your service.
      It seems to me that the necessary changes in law enforcement can only happen from within. Do you have any suggestions on how the rest of us can make this happen?

      • I think a great start would be to get involved in your local community, to include you police department. We have to remind ourselves that they work for us. If we want better policing and respect for all, then we have to first acknowledge the problem in our own communities. Neighborhood meetings are a great place to start getting involved. If you hear of a case of mistreatment by your police, get the facts and get involved. As John says, silence is permission.

        • You said the key words, “get the facts”. Seems to me scores of people jump to the conclusions that end up being wrong but, refuse to later admit their mistakes.

          • Amen BeBe. We have such visceral, quick, and vehement gut reactions without truly knowing the facts. I don’t even know how an effective, untainted investigation could go forward into the shootings of either of the young men killed last week with so much media attention. The man in MN had a girlfriend who began recording after he was shot, we don’t know everything that occured before that. Instead of throwing that officer completely under the bus and acting like he was being a racist, let’s calm down and get all the facts. Yes, we have a lot of work to do here, to move forward with change in our country just in treating everyone with respect and dignity, and we need to get down to the task of doing that instead of just praying about it. But it doesn’t help to throw accusations around either. We have no idea what was going through the minds of either of the police officers in those situations, maybe they were scared, I can’t even imagine doing that job on a day to day basis. If I saw someone I thought resembled a potential robbery suspect, and then they had a gun on them and weren’t keeping their hands where I asked them to…..I honestly have no idea what I would do, and neither does anyone else here who wasn’t there. So let’s stop with throwing around “if they had been white, they’d be alive” accusations, which isn’t helping anything right now.

          • I agree, BeBe, but remember, facts are also filtered through our lens of experience. That’s why this is so difficult and communication and transparency are so important. Police are very reluctant to admit mistakes or wrongdoing in most cases. That said, I’ve never gotten an apology from a citizen who accused me of wrongdoing and were disproven, either. So, the lack of empathy and trust runs deep and both ways. Someone has to reach across the divide to start a process for change. It is my personal opinion that onus is on Law Enforcement because we are the representatives of government and order in society.

    • Out of all the comments made, your comments touched me the most! As a black woman who’s married to a black man and have black nephews and cousins, I worry at times what could happen because they all have dreams and ambitions. But I also know that ALL cops are not bad! The sad part is that we need LAW Enforcement! Their job is tough as it is fighting crime daily. I thought about the white detective who worked hard to help find the person who shot my younger brother, who murdered my eldest brother and the officers who spent 8 hours patrolling an area looking for the person who recently murdered my cousin due to domestic violence. My heart aches at the divide because unfortunately I have also seen officers abuse their authority!!! We need to truly figure out a way to resolve and end racial tension in our society. People are hurting! We all feel the pain! Bias must END! Racism Must END! Love must BEGIN!

    • Lisa, I have to say I always, without exception, appreciate and value your comments. I too have been in a division of law enforcement for several years.

      “Training has to evolve to raise awareness about our innate bias and incorporate that into dynamic role play, not just static diversity training that doesn’t explore how it affects how cops do THE JOB.’

      Absolutely. But this is also altruistic. Regardless of the amount of training, these horrific incidents will continue. And I say this because over the years, I’ve learned there are a few distinct types of folks; on both sides of the law and regardless of enthnicity. Sort of like flying. There are those who will never fly, period. There are those who see value in flying, the reasoning behind it. They will either stop at the airport bar for a few to get over the jitters or gladly board and enjoy the experience. Then there’s the folks who board and then for thrill and challenge jump with a parachute.

      And I’m sorry to say, when parachuters meet, disasters happen. Sterling murders will continue because Sterling’s and murderers exist.. Better employment and psychological screening for potential officers is needed. Better training is still needed. And we’ll hope upon hope that parachuter types won’t meet.

      And I am by no means denying that white racism exists in America. It is alive and well… in everyday, non news worthy situations and scenarios where Black America is left feeling invalidated and less exist.Truth is everyone needs a Christ lens.

      • Hatred for one person against another based on race isn’t just the domain of white people. Going out and killing someone who has never done a thing to you out of hatred for them just because their skin is similar to the one who did you wrong is a monstrous act.

  8. The ex-police officer has some useful guidelines for the educators of future officers. I believe the teaching of colour blindness and words-of-hate deafness should start in infancy. I was brought up in a multi-cultural foster home in the 1950s and 60s. When guidance was needed, focus was always on behaviour and never skin colour or cultural differences. Despite this, there was still an undercurrent of fear and hatred emanating from some of the children, male and female. The foster parents could try to guide the in-house behaviour by their own uneven example, but it was the examples seen and copied in the world at large that completed our inconsistent education. It was and is my experience that fear and hatred feed off each other. We post-war children, abandoned by our own families, struggled each day to find acceptance in the world. There was certainly no feeling of privilege because I was white. The only niche I could carve for myself was by being a servant to adults and children alike, avoiding physical and verbal abuse whenever possible, and – when I was invisible and forgotten – scurrying to a quiet, barely-lit corner of the house where I could find blessed respite in any book I could lay my hands on. My own daughter has benefitted, I think, from my sharing the stories of my childhood experiences, and she teaches tolerance and acceptance wherever she goes – by her own kindness and care of others.

  9. Edward,
    I’m making no judgment on the state of the family, and yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of much disrespect and seen the effects of moral destruction of the family. That’s not an excuse for law enforcement not to work diligently to address the biases that affect the way we do our jobs. That is the issue. I’m advocating training to better control situations long before they become deadly force. There are plenty of times I’ve had to react in a split second, but the cases we have been seeing are not generally those. Most of these are instances where cops respond and either over react or fail to control situations properly. They then escalate into deadly encounters. Many are fueled by internalized racism that we are denying. That’s all I’m saying.

    • The honest question I have is why? Why would there be overactive, violent crime towards black men by white cops? Everyone uses the word “racism”; but I want to know why it exists in this realm and to this extent.

      • Me too Rachel. I think we aren’t digging deep enough to overcome some of the preprogrammed responses to what we are probably genetically predisposed to perceive as “other”. The answer isn’t so simple, and the solution is probably something that takes thousands of years. And we have to make a sincere effort even at that rate.

        • Rachel and Carmen,
          I ask why often. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I think Carmen is stating part of what I believe–that we aren’t digging deep enough. The best I can do is say I believe internalized bias drives fear and affects some–certainly not all–of these situations. Why do some officers react aggressively when others don’t? I can’t say exactly. One thing is certain, we are at the precipice of a dangerous circle right now. Breakdowns in police/community relations breeds more fear and distrust, which makes officers more prone to fear, anger and force, an angry young Black man feels the only solution is violence. He arms himself (far too easily) with an assault weapon to mow down police officers in the name of hate. I don’t have the answers, I only offer my humble perspective for possible avenues of communication. Somehow we must find a way to drive meaningful change. Peace to you all.

    • Lisa,
      First off let me say thank you for your dedication and faithfulness in serving in the public in the realm in which you do. I have no firsthand experience in what you encounter in you day to day duties but can only imagine that there are times of great reward and times that leave one wondering what happened to us a society.

      Training may work for some instances, depending on the level of experience of the LEO, and the situation. I’d like to hear of just what areas/issues/tactics you believe where training can possibly help and dissolve tensions.

      I believe that we are all responsible for our own actions and that we project our beliefs through our actions/speech/attitudes. These are how we transmit or broadcast who we are to those around us. I’m sure that you have had situations that you picked up on someone’s signals that led you to believe they would act a certain way based upon a past experience. Am I wrong in that assumption? So if we project a certain type persona to someone who’s job it is to deal with issues that are not warranted, it becomes an issue of trumping their actions to achieve the mission at hand, namely, the order of society.

      If you had a situation in which someone was not following your orders to do what you requested and they kept refusing to comply despite all your efforts, what would be your next course of action? Would you give up and let them go on acting lawlessly? That would be like telling them you don’t believe in your job or any form of authority. In essence, would you not be telling them in no short order that you believed in anarchy? Do you really want to live in that type of society? I don’t.

      I don’t believe that race determines our position within the kingdom of God, and that race shouldn’t determine our worthiness in society either. To hold that opinion would be telling God that part of his creation is less than good. I do believe that the black race has been used by those (Satan in particular) in past history as a device to cause division within that race and to further divide other peoples/nations/communities, for not only to cause division, but to gain power through strife.

      • Hi Edward,
        None of my comments should be construed to imply any repudiation of law and order or wanting anarchy. Prior to my law enforcement service, I served in the US Army, so I’m probably the last person who doesn’t believe in order.

        As simply as I can put it is this: The training and shift in thinking for law enforcement as a profession, is I think of more de-escalation and alternatives to resolving conflict peacefully. It starts with how you talk to people. It is possible to speak respectfully, even when you are arresting someone, or if you believe they are wrong. In my career, the most successful officers are those who communicate. Often, situations don’t have to get physical if we lose the ego response of “Because I said so!”

        As far as your question regarding someone refusing to comply, that is case by case, of course. No, I’ve never walked away from a non compliant person. I’ve either shifted tactics in communication, or if necessary, escalated my use of force to achieve my objective. This sometimes requires slowing down a bit, getting more officers with you, or other methods. But, when the situation hasn’t risen to deadly for me or someone else, I’ve always worked to resolve it non-violently. I personally have found that allowing people opportunity to vent is sometimes all they want, even if they know they are going to jail.

        There will always be drastic situations where violence occurs and officers have to react, but those are extremes. What bothers me is the use of extremes to pretend we can’t make constructive changes. We should not lose sight of real changes that can reduce in-custody deaths or violent resistance to officers that cause injury or death to subjects and officers. We can do better.
        *None of the above in any way suggests that these are the ONLY answers. Just my experiences.

        • Lisa,
          I’ll agree with you on communication being key. Do they teach the different tactics you mentioned in law enforcement schools?

          I will have to admit that I lose patience with people easily, which is why I’m not in a profession that deals with the public very often. I’m very appreciative of those individuals who have taken on the role of dealing with the public at large. Not an easy task.

          • Edward,
            There has always been de-escalation training, but they are not emphasized enough. It seems to me that has eroded further as the years have gone by. Funny how with the proliferation of weapons, accompanied by the aggression in our society (stand your ground laws, etc), police perceive (rightly) that encounters are much more potentially dangerous. So, that’s a societal problem we also ignore but let cops deal with. How does one not react more aggressively in the face of such daily threat potentials? Chief Brown in Dallas said it well: We are asking too much of our police. As citizens, we have to stop calling the police for every little thing. Mental illness, poverty, unemployment, lack of education. None of these things have easy answers, but shouldn’t be left to the street cop to figure out when they become quality of life problems in our communities. Criminalizing things like homelessness might get “those people” out of sight, but the problem isn’t solved by arrest.

  10. Thank you, John, for showing just how badly broken our law enforcement system is. The police have become little more than thugs with badges who feel entitled to brutalize, maim, and kill anyone that gets on their nerves. At the risk of showing my age, I have started calling them “pigs” again and I know it does not help matters but until they show me otherwise I am not feeling charitable enough to stop.

    “To protect and serve” ~ yeah but only if you’re white.

  11. I’m sorry. I have a huge problem with some of this.

    Yes, racism still exists both overtly and institutionally. We absolutely need to rail against it and, in my opinion, focus on poverty and education programs as the first big start.

    You cannot paint each of these cases with the same brush. You cannot say the Michael Brown case was the same as Alton Sterlings. Some, not all, but some of these cases were cases where the person chose to not follow orders given by the police. You simply cannot do that. If the police give you an order, you comply exactly and slowly with non-aggression. You don’t fight or physically resist – especially if you have a weapon on you – you fight it in court if you have a problem.

    Our police go running towards danger when the rest of us run away or freeze. I’m not willing to throw these brave souls under the bus. Bad cops aside, good cops make mistakes too and maybe they need additional education and police training before they go on the streets.

    I know this may sound to some like I’m justifying what happened in all these cases. I’m not. But if we choose to paint all cases with the same brush, it runs the risk of delegitimizing the fight to correct the true problems of racism.

  12. Queen of Denial:

    If you cannot see how damaged our criminal justice system is (and trust me when I say it is indeed badly damaged), then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  13. I would also mention the Kelly Thomas case, that got quite a bit of local attention in 2011….Kelly Thomas was a young, homeless, schizophrenic white man who was beaten to death by six (6) Fullerton, California police officers.

    His family had been trying to get Mr. Thomas help for some time…and this case also illustrates the collision between law enforcement, mental illness and poverty, with law enforcement and prison becoming the mental health treatment of last resort for the poor.

    Although there was a trial, the officers basically got off; Kelly Thomas’ father is pursuing a civil case against the officers.

    Fullerton is Behind The Orange Curtain (ie: Orange County)…for non-Southern Californians, Orange County is very conservative, very Republican (in contrast to Lost Angeles County, which is pretty much the polar opposite) – homeless are NOT WELCOME in most of the county, and mentally ill homeless are pariahs. There is a large Latino population in Santa Ana and parts of Anaheim; Orange County is something like 2% black (I did live, for a while, in The Land Of Gracious Living Also Known As Yorba Linda (Richard Nixon’s hometown, and location of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, so that gives you some indication of the leanings of the area)

    There seems to be a very authoritarian type that is drawn to the military and police – a type that tends to brutally exercise power and is unsympathetic to those who are Not Normative…and I believe we all know what types of people are in the Not Normative class. I’ve also seen this type at the women’s prison (California Institution for Women (CIW), Corona) , among the correctional officers.

    This type of person tends to do very well in authoritarian organizations such as the police, prison guards and military…there has been a definite militarization of police in later years, with local police looking more like Seal Team Six, along with the requisite hardware. I contrast this with commercials I’ve heard for the National Guard, where people speak of helping rescue people from fires, floods and other disasters, and present themselves as serving the citizenry, not oppressing them.

    Attention needs to be given to the kinds of people who are recruited for the police and military – to their psychological and social makeup….and racial/sexual attitudes enter very much into that.

  14. “I would also mention the Kelly Thomas case, that got quite a bit of local attention in 2011….Kelly Thomas was a young, homeless, schizophrenic white man who was beaten to death by six (6) Fullerton, California police officers.”

    Oh Christ, no one is suggesting that it does not happen to white people, but to drag this case into the spotlight as if it somehow makes a point against the larger issue of law enforcement vs the Black community is not only inaccurate but in EXTREMELY poor taste.

  15. Completely disagree – and your nastiness is uncalled for – I am a black woman with THREE black sons – if police in Orangd County beat a young WHITE man to death – what can BLACK people expect???

    As long as the focus stays upon black people only and NOT how poor, homeless, mentally ill, LGBTQIX, sex workers and anyone NOT wealthy white middle class are treated by police – NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

    WHEN poor, homeless, sex workers, LGBTQIX people of ALL RACES DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY from police, then things MIGHT START TO CHANGE

    • “WHEN poor, homeless, sex workers, LGBTQIX people of ALL RACES DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY from police, then things MIGHT START TO CHANGE”

      I wish I could be so sure. To me all the Kelly Thomas case proves is that police brutality is just as color blind as everything else.

      Sorry you think I was nasty. I still think your remarks were in poor taste. And for what it is worth, I am a Gay man, fifty-three years old. When I was seventeen I was raped and beaten by two men. The police were, let’s just say, less than eager to help me. Though to be fair, it happened at night and I doubt I could have given them enough information.

      I was also gay-bashed twice. This time I got a look at my assailants. The police, however, seemed to think the whole thing was funny and were clearly not going to believe a word I said (maybe if I’d had a name to give them, but I doubt it).

      “To Protect And Serve” ~ My ASS

  16. YOU COULDNT BE BOTHERED TO EVEN READ THE ENTIRE POSTING – and I have been plenty spit upon, harassed and called names as a BLACK WOMAN not to take YOUR CRAP

    • For your information I DID read the entire post. You have the right to disagree with me but kindly do me the courtesy of not accusing me of things I have not done (or of not doing things I have).

  17. YOU DIDNT EVEN READ MY ENTIRE POSTING – and I have been spit upon, called names and harrassed as a BLACK WOMAN enough not to take YOUR CRAP

  18. Apparently not bothering to read another person’s posts is not something only I am guilty of. And for Christ’s sake don’t post the same Goddamn thing to me; it is getting on my last Gay nerve.

  19. Fair enough, Scott – I apologize.

    I am sorry for what happened to you as a gay man – no one should be treated as you were

    It just seems there is a long, sad, heartbreaking litany of police brutality against all kinds of people, and Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are two more names added.

    I would not wish any such thing upon anyone – but I wonder what would happen if a son or daughter of a Senator were killed in the same way as Mr Sterling and Mr. Castile ….

  20. I know it is a problem that affects more than just the Black community. It’s just that lately it seems to have overwhelmingly become an “us vs them” struggle with cops on one side and Black people on the other and while I won’t say I was unaware of it, I don’t think I realized just how bad it had become. And it is also a tad bit more complicated than a simple Black vs White since no doubt some of the police officers in these cases are Black, just as some of the victims are White.

    • I totally agree that the onus is on White people; we live with the benefits of White privilege all the time. What I wonder is if we need to listen more to persons of color because I think maybe we need their advice on what we need to do.

  21. I think I am experiencing two “issues” with the site itself. First, it is not always clear to whom someone is responding, which creates unnecessary tension. Second, is it just me, or does the system bog down after a while? I’m not that fast on the keyboard but I have to stop and wait for the screen to catch up.

    • It is a combination of your computer’s download capacity (RAM) and the video ads at the bottoms of John’s posts. It drove me nuts until I bought a new computer with more RAM, installed a high quality “ad block” program, and increased my cable internet speed to 75 mbs. It fixed the whole thing to where it runs like a charm. My ad blocker is “Adguard.” I think it is free software. I hope that helps.

  22. Its a shame that these kind of incidents are still happening. There is such an awful past that affected these people and yet it is happening another way. God made us all the same.

  23. To John Wiggins: A trained shooter/marksman can hit exactly what he or she wants to hit. I don’t buy the argument that the moment dictates what happens. Why train law enforcement in procedures if their emotions are going to create a different scenario? I’ve also talked to law enforcement friends who admit that they do not get the training to be more selective. So, no, I haven’t been watching too much television….maybe too much of the video from police vests though. Those cameras tell the tale much more accurately.

  24. I do not believe there are that many white men who become police officers because they hate black people and want to kill them. I tend to think better of people than that.

    What I believe happens in some cases is that cops are scared shitless. Anxiety leads to blatant overreaction; past intense/traumatic experiences can lead to anxiety.

    I do not think the officers are to be excused from horrible and senseless acts of violence on innocent people, no.

    11 officers shot tonight at a protest; 4 dead. 4 innocent officers dead for no reason other than standing in the street probably scared to death while they allow said crowd to protest.

    Do you want that job?

    All lives matter; stop dividing & start healing.

    • Ellen,
      I had that job for 25 years, and am married to an officer. Most of my friends are cops. No, we don’t purposely intend to kill Black people. But, we must begin to acknowledge and address the issues within law enforcement that exacerbate the problems with the Black community. That in no way means that only cops–or all cops are to blame. We must take a look internally and continue to work with the communities we serve to find common ground. Cops who abuse their positions make my fellow cops less safe. Proof in Dallas. Police are in the position to lead in communities. I believe, as the ones who society charges with safety and public order, we must step up aggressively to find solutions. Thanks.

      • Understand that. Perhaps what I wish to say is relations need to improve on both ends. Cops need to feel less threatened; black people need to feel less threatened. That goes much deeper than improving law enforcement training alone. The deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem. I believe we are all acting out of fear; wanting a sense of belonging. There is a need for healing that goes way beyond not pulling a trigger. Last night did nothing but to up the ante, unfortunately.

  25. Overnight, my worst fears came terribly true. First, let me say my heart breaks and I stand firmly with the fine officers in Dallas and around the country. I thank you for continuing to keep us safe in a world that seems to grow ever more mad. I’ve been crying for hours.

    Part of my writings and conversations with peers has centered upon my absolute belief that bad officers and poor training that leads to improper escalation and fatalities are very real components of problems in law enforcement that makes all officers less safe. It makes them less safe because the ripple affect in black communities too often translates into resistance and even attacks on law enforcement. We see the horrific example now in Dallas.

    My prayer today is for comfort to grieving families. The larger law enforcement family, and I do not forget the grieving families of the Black men shot this week. It’s all connected. We must resist the temptation to take up opposite sides of the line, further entrench our hatred. Now, in these most difficult times, we need the stability of law enforcement. I pray my brothers and sisters in blue stay true to their honor and do not let this evil act change the good of who you are.

    If you are a community member, as John says, stop praying for God to fix this and get involved. Get to know your officers, neighbors, and commit to finding solutions. Love is the only force that has ever defeated hate. God Bless you all. Thanks for listening.

  26. Of course “all lives matter” in the overall scheme of life. But that is not what any of this is about. This IS about the deeply ingrained racism in our nation. Those of us who are white usually have a reluctance to grasp that concept because it puts a mirror in front of us and makes us very uncomfortable.

    We learn prejudice. We are not born with prejudice. We learned racism, whether overtly through such organizations as the KKK or through the osmosis of being around so much of it. Until we own the fact that we are racist, we cannot address the issue.

    We benefit from white privilege. And please do not tell me that does not exist. If you do not believe that white privilege exists, then you cannot understand racism. Take some courses on racism. Many faith communities offer and some require it for leadership positions. It isn’t to make anyone feel guilty. It is to bring us to the awareness of how we treat people whose skin is darker than ours, even when we are not always conscious of how we are treating them.

    This is a far more complex topic for a forum such as this. It takes study and interaction with those who are different from us to even begin to understand all the issues. Suffice it to say that we white folks have a long way to go in both understanding and owning our racism at the individual level as well as the corporate and national level.

    We create the problems. White folks are the source of racism. The victims of racism cannot fix the problem. The victims of any form of bigotry or prejudice have never been able to fix those problems. They can only be resolved when the majority population decides to act. So until us white folks get off our butts and do something about ending racism, it will continue to be a massive blot on the face of humanity.

    My faith teaches me many things. Perhaps the most important is that we are all equal in the eyes of God regardless of how badly we might treat or view each other.

    The “ism’s” we create arise from hatred built upon ignorance, not on the love we gain when we see the face of Christ in each other. At least that is how I see this from the view of the faith I purport to practice.

    We will never heal the divisions among us until we first admit that they do exist. Awareness leads to progress…….will we ever really see either in our lifetimes? I hope so, but have my doubts.

    End of too long a discourse. My apologies for taking so much of your time. My buttons obviously got pushed!

    • Respectfully, I think the race problem runs deeper than whites behaving badly. It isn’t as simple as whites correcting said behavior, and race issues go away. There are racial tensions every where you look; between all races. Stereotypes & assumptions & patterns; from country to country and across ethnicities & races.

      On the one hand, we are supposed to be talking about it, but not really, because we are white and privileged. We are supposed to be celebrating differences, and on the other, we are racist if we see color and form said distinctions in our mind.

      For me, the issues run deep and heal best when families of origin practice love, acceptance, and kindness, and give children a huge sense of belonging.

  27. Pingback: Divided We Fall | SheSavvy

  28. Respectfully, I must disagree. Your response is from the lens of white privilege. All of what you said has merit but the bottom line is that in the United States, we are dealing with systemic racism. If we are honest, most of this can be traced back to when we enslaved other human beings and began to treat and believe them to be inferior to white people. Breaking apart families over 300 years ago is still having its impact today. White people behaving badly is a gross generalization of the problems. And yes we are supposed to be talking about all of this…..not talking, glossing over, hiding, covering up, etc. etc. etc. got us to where we are. These are not easy conversations. They are emotion-laden, but they do yield results. I’ve been in the conferences/classes that teach us to address racism. We are different and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when we claim difference to be bad or evil or anything negative. True, if we had all been raised in families where there was no opportunity to be exposed to anything other than love, acceptance and kindness we would be better off. Few practice the faith they profess. Otherwise Sunday morning would not be the most segregated time of the week.

    We are not called to be “color blind.” We are called to see the rainbow of color that is the human race. We are called to celebrate that. We are not called to elevate one color of folks above another just because of color. We should be on level ground. What any of us accomplishes is what should be elevated and celebrated.

  29. Good and well, but what exactly am I supposed to do? Whether or not generations before me contributed to the root cause of broken families, poverty, and increased violence (which combination exists in all races)…what am I supposed to do? I don’t ask for arguments sake; I ask to be enlightened.

  30. He was a piece of trash, that the police had dealt with too many times! Look up his rap sheet! I doubt color made a difference. Respect is earned. If you don’t teach respect for authority in your household then don’t come crying when your family isn’t shown it. Personally, I think they should just deal with their own and see how they like it when white cops don’t show up. Maybe we should just let them all run amok and destroy their communities along with themselves. The fact is, it has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with ignorance! They get no sympathy from me.

  31. So who is Alton Sterling? For starters, liberals should know he possessed an illegal firearm. As a felon with a lengthy rap sheet, Sterling is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. Police records show Sterling had been a member of the Bloods gang, and had a list of offenses including battery, assault, drugs and weapons charges, and owed $25,000 in child support. He was also a registered pedophile, having impregnated a 14-year-old girl when he was 20. The media, by contrast, has portrayed him as a loving father of five.

    • I’m not sure that all of his faults and previous crimes were actually justification for killing him the way he was killed. I’ve known lots of what I would term “white trash” men who have the same “credentials” and I would bet they would have been treated differently…..even at the hands of Black law enforcement officers. That would be a good example of white privilege. The issue is not liberal vs conservative. It is fairness for all.

  32. Wow! What a Christian response. Guess that’s all that needs to be said……..except maybe to ask God to preserve us from His followers.

  33. The Bible teaches that there are many nationalities, but there is one genetic race known as mankind. When Eve was named by Adam, she was named so because “she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20). The “all” is significant. It means that every man and woman can trace their ancestry back to Adam and Eve. As Paul told the Athenians, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). While many of their children sinned against God, it was Noah who remained faithful. When God destroyed the world, Noah and his immediate family (8) were saved. Hence, every person in this world can trace their lineage back to Noah and to one of his three sons. “Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated” (Gen 9:18-19).

    Genesis 11:1-9 records the origin of our various nationalities and languages. After the flood, mankind violated God’s command to fill the earth; instead, they attempted to settle in one area. They formed a building project to create a name for themselves, possibly to further encourage people to remain. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” (Genesis 11:4). God stopped the project by altering the language of each family. Since communication back then became impossible, mankind began to scatter across the earth.

    It really doesn’t matter what the skin color is of any of our ancestors because to God we
    are all one. “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). We are all offered the same hope of salvation. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). This was the promise of the new covenant, the people from every nation would flow into the kingdom of Christ. “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him” (Daniel 7:14). The gospel is preached “to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev 14:6). John’s vision of heaven was one of “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9).

    The gospel is to be taught everyone without regards to their race, gender, nationality, or color. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20). No one is to be excluded. For one nationality to place itself above any other would be sinful. As God is no respecter of people, neither can be His people. Rather than seeking to divide, we must seek to fulfill Christ’s dream of becoming one in Him. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn 17:20-21).
    Therefore, if you are a Christian and you hold racist thoughts or feelings towards another, you need to repent, that the thought of your heart may be forgiven you (Acts 8:22). God is not a racist and his heavenly kingdom will not inhabit those who are racists. God bids all to the gospel and not willing that any be lost. The book of Acts records a white man (Cornelius), a black man (Eunuch), and a Jew (Saul) all being saved by the same gospel. “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).

  34. Thank you John so very much for continuing much needed conversation. I know you only post “stuff” that ring true to you. Although I always don’t agree, being part of a huge 1st responder family, I appreciate your voice and the piece of your heart you give to all of us with each post. Forever my brother in Christ, a grateful blog follower

    • Edit – Although I don’t always agree with your statements ( of which you posted in this blog part of which is because many friends are 1st responders), they are all motivated by your love for all.

  35. Lisa, thank you for posting your experience as a law enforcement officer; it is important to hear from police and community – it is past time for a frank, open, painful and honest discussion around racial and ethnic resentments in this country – I think the Truth and Reconciliation hearings held in South Africa good be a good model.

    I was struck by a comment made by an officer on NPR; he spoke of the disconnect between his training at the police academy and the mentoring received from veteran cops, one who told him: ‘It’s better to be tried by a jury of twelve than carried out by six pallbearers’.

    Sunlight is a disinfectant, and badly needed at this point in our country.

    • Funny, I was just thinking about that toxic adage just the other day. For me, after much reflection, I have come to the realization that we must institute real change that unflinchingly addresses those long-ingrained law enforcement beliefs in ways that make officers open their eyes to the harm they do. Right now, officers largely take any suggestion at alternative responses that place protecting life as the primary outcome to mean that they are supposed to endanger themselves. This is the farthest thing from the truth for me. In reality, placing humanity back in our policing will improve safety for all.

      • Lisa, thanks for your comments.

        I’m struggling with something that I’ve not fully fleshed out yet, and that is that this “story” is becoming a battle between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, when I don’t think (or maybe don’t want to think) that this is the battle at all. The conflict is apparent when police officers interact with black Americans, but I can’t see how the two sides are in opposition to a central thing.

        Blue lives and black lives are being used to identify two camps, but I just can’t accept that so easily.

        Given my own background, education, and life achievements, I’ve been protected by police officers silently and invisibly; given my investigations and relationships today, I am learning that my friends and brothers and sisters have not been protected; indeed, they have been egregiously the focus of police activity and interruption. My own county in Washington has a well-respected black politician who served for more than a decade as the chief executive of the county (along the lines of the county mayor), and yet he was stopped seven times by the city’s police force for burned out headlight (in the day time) and other “violations” and questioned about who he was, why he was where he was, what his destination was, and what his purpose was –all questions that I have *never* been subjected to as an ordinary white person, let alone a white person holding an elected office as the most visible white person in the county.

        I can’t believe the two sides are sides against each other. I can’t believe black Americans do not want police protection *in the same why white Americans want police protection*; i.e., protection and not simply being treated as chum for the justice system. I can’t believe police officers want to be considered threats that must always be opposed and abused. I can’t believe either camp wants it this way, and I can’t believe there can’t be a reconciliation along with an investigation of what’s really going on.

        Thanks for stepping up here and speaking out. Your voice, and voices like yours, need to be heard.

        • Hi Stephen,
          Thank you for your thoughtful words. To answer your basic question from my own experience, yes, African Americans do want the police in their communities. They have families and hopes and dreams and want a good life just like the rest of us. You’re right, on a basic level, we all want the same things. That is what I try to say to folks.

          One of the problems is that all of society’s ills are far too often dumped at the feet of the police officer. Our country doesn’t want to deal properly with poverty, homelessness, mental health, etc. The solution? 911 when that individual disrupts the status quo. The cop can’t possibly deal with these things, and only has a couple of options, chiefly, that is arrest or detention of some form. That’s where it gets dangerous.

          To take another quote from my writing:
          What makes arrest and incarceration such effective punishment is the visceral human desire for freedom. Even if the person being arrested is not in the evil category, the fight or flight natural response to the prospect of captivity is the very thing that turns a simple interaction into a deadly encounter.

          A final note. The police aren’t called when everything is going well. We are called when the situation is already bad. Police generally deal with people at their worst or on their worst days. Poverty and crime in our country are too often concentrated in communities of color, so we respond to those communities over and over. As a human, it’s difficult not to be affected by these facts. The cop gets preconditioned to connect the crime and violence that he/she responds to most often with race because the poor neighborhoods of color are where we spend so much time. I’m not excusing any bad behavior, only saying that is where it often starts. But the cop can’t do anything to lift anyone out of poverty, society must.

          I could go on, but there are too many variables and I don’t want anyone thinking that any one thing I say is some panacea. Bottom line is policing as a profession has to recognize issues and work to train better, make community policing real outreach, and resist the temptation to pull back from communication while amping up aggression tactics. The community leaders who work tirelessly to improve must also stay engaged. None of us can afford to turn away now. Thanks.

  36. It’s not “hateful” to point out that we white people benefit from privilege that is often invisible to us. Nor is it an “accusation,” as though we’re doing something wrong. And it’s a great deal more subtle than simply having someone come up to you and say, “Congratulations, you’re white, here’s a pile of money and a courtesy card you can show if you get stopped by a police officer.”

    Privilege is not having to have a conversation with your kids about how to keep from being killed by a police officer who is racist and on a power trip. (No, not all of them are like that, of course not; but it only takes one.) Privilege is not being followed around like a potential thief when I go to my local department store, just because of the color of my skin. Those things are not my fault, so nobody is accusing me of anything by pointing out the privilege I enjoy as a white person, and it isn’t hateful to point them out so I become more aware.

  37. Lisa – an observation, from a something a corrections lieutenant at the California Institution for Women (CIW), Corona, CA, told me:

    He said he often had to get his officers to adjust their methods of dealing with female inmates if they had transferred from some of the very hard-core men’s facilities (Pelican Bay, San Quentin, Folsom)…that men would often say, “yes sir, no sir” and then sometimes attack the officer. Women would mouth off, and ask all kinds of questions, but in general, they would not attack… if the officer __explained__ to the female inmates __why__ they were being asked to do something, nine times out of ten, they’d comply right away. He said that the women just wanted an explanation, and that when his officers did that, things went much better.

    He also told me that he had to get the officers to understand women’s tendency to want more cleanliness and privacy, and how to work with that as well – perhaps by having a female corrections officer operate in certain situations such as checking on the inmates when they were showering.

    This corrections lieutenant (he’s now a captain) understood that he and his staff needed to make adjustments.

    There can be respect on both sides, if each side listens to and tries to understand the viewpoint of the other – and that is what you are saying, and thank you for that!

    • Yattwood,
      Yes, treating each individual appropriately is very important. Your friend is correct and very wise. If I may, I’ll add another observation based upon experience. I find that women in policing tend to rely much more on verbal skills and non-physical means to calm situations. For me, it was a no brainer, because at 5 foot, 105 pounds, thinking I can fight my way out of any situation was insanity. So, what I’m trying to say from my own experience, is that it is very doable. Escalating less, fighting less, and finally, shooting less. This is not to say that no male officers perform that way, but in a very general way, it bears considering in the larger conversation.

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  41. Lisa: What are your thoughts on police tending to wear and use more military-type equipment in recent years? I live about 45 miles east of Lost Angeles in what’s called the ‘Inland Empire’; my city uses the county sheriff as police, but several neighboring towns have their own police forces. I’ve noticed that these forces are wearing very military-style uniforms and seem to have more military-style equipment, whereas the county sheriffs dress more like traditional police.

    I am not against police having more high-powered equipment and using advanced tactics – unfortunately, the Inland Empire has areas containing methamphetamine labs, and many of the bad guys have serious weaponry…but, I’m wondering if, psychologically, a more “combat soldier” vs “traditional police” mentality starts to take over?

    And you are so right about the increased burdens put upon police; I have volunteered since 2000 at the California Institution for Women (CIW), Corona – and law enforcement and prison have become the mental health providers of last resort for the poor, and even the middle class, because insurers largely do not cover mental health treatment, and when they do, it is very inadequate. There are a lot of women at CIW who are there basically because they’re mentally ill and poor more than they’re actually criminal – but the community demands something be done without the actual will to have appropriate and comprehensive mental health services.

    • yattwood,
      That is such a great question. I have to say I’m conflicted on this one. Police use of military type equipment is vital in situations with barricaded, armed subjects. I’d much rather the SWAT team use a Bearcat to enter than risk their lives in forced entries, when possible. However, using tactical gear in too many situations feels over aggressive and can actually exacerbate a problem, in some situations. As always, there is no one answer.

      I can recall as a young officer, being called to a civil disturbance in one of our large housing complexes. There were hundreds in the street, most just being loud and annoying. The sergeant in charge called more officers in a “show of force”, then told us not to engage. Our increased presence without dialogue or actively dealing with the aggressors did nothing to solve any problems, in fact, it increased the problem because we became the reason for more to join the crowd.

      I was later part of a civil unrest response team and saw instances where the show of force was helpful, but in virtually all situations, what was the most valuable at conflict resolution was always reaching out to community or protest organizers. A friend from my old agency told me just yesterday that they have had BLM protestors, but no issues because they actively sought out the organizers to coordinate. It’s more in the communication than the equipment.

    • Oh, and as far as women and the criminal justice system, that continues to be a big problem. I know in domestic violence cases, women are often charged for defending themselves from aggression if they use any kind of weapon. We put together a class to raise awareness in law enforcement that really helped put it into perspective and change the arrest thinking. I’d love to chat further with you on some of these issues, if you’d like. You can email me at: lkboeving@gmail.com. Thanks for the great conversation.

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