Continuously and without resolve, our country is plagued by the unjust deaths of black men and women. George Floyd’s murder has become a catalyst for the necessary changes that need to occur within our police, justice system and schools. We need to rethink how we educate ourselves about race and utilize police in the United States.
Education regarding race and history will need to evolve. In schools, we educate our youth about the history of the United States, but we do it with a very narrow view. Let me be clear, I do not want us to undermine the positive decisions of the United States. After all, nationality is an important part of our shared identity. But we tend to gloss over, and even ignore certain elements of our history racially and ethically in order to indoctrinate students. We gloss over the brutality of Columbus and fail to recognize how early racism was installed into settlers’ mindset through pre-colonial law that punished the equitable treatment of Africans. We ignore the scalping of Penobscot Natives and the Wounded Knee massacre. We need to recognize and learn from these appalling mistakes through history. We also need to help teach the concept of racism, and how it is still alive today. Education that helps us to understand how racism happens and affects us could be useful. The blue-eyes/green-eyes simulation used by Jane Elliot could be adapted for modern-day students to help them empathize with people of color. We won’t improve as a country if we do not admit there is a problem and educate ourselves.
Policing needs to become a lesser part of our system, not the first resort of how we respond to problems. According to the Washington Post, we spend roughly 100 billion dollars a year on policing as a nation. But Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country… [For] every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve.” We spend too much on police, while failing to invest that money in mental health, education and rehabilitative services. We need to stop over-investing in police forces to deal with issues that require other remedies. We can easily cut the federal funding of police and reinvest that money into other services that directly fix social problems. Otherwise, why is it that, in multiple areas of the country, peaceful protesters are met with violence and force? New priorities need to be set by these police departments. Police unions need to stop postponing the firing of bad police officers. Use of force needs to be seriously addressed in training. Qualified immunity needs to be removed. The systematic racism within our criminal justice system needs to be removed. ALEC and the CCA need to be help accountable for pushing rhetoric for the 1994 Crime Bill, SB 1070 and other bills that have led to mass incarceration. We need to stop companies profiting off of people who are incarcerated by ending private prisons.
There is no way that we can fix our situation unless we address the problem of racism in our institutions. We must be open to new ideas and move the country forward. We must admit our past failures and learn from them; that way, we can ensure that black lives are protected, that black lives matter.