WASHINGTON – Perception, as we know, is reality. And, sadly, right now the large US African-American community (more than 40 million citizens) perceives itself as the targeted victim of White police brutality. This includes the willful killing (murder?) of unarmed Black people.
Furthermore, most Blacks are convinced that the entire White-dominated and controlled justice system is fixed. And the fix is against them. If a White police officer in broad daylight kills an unarmed Black person, the police officer will go free –always.
Sure, there may be a perfunctory inquiry and/or a Grand Jury process. But, in the end, the White police officer will be exonerated, each and every time.
Therefore, it is quite clear that in America Blacks are persecuted, and that they will never get justice.
In fact, it gets even worse. An African-American lady interviewed in a New York street by a major cable TV network stated with a very calm voice that it is quite clear that Whites are out to get Blacks. In fact, it is obvious that Whites are planning to kill all Blacks, one by one. This was not said in a an emotional tone. This was a calm reflection expressed by a person who appeared to be intelligent and articulate.
Alright, you might say that there was some hyperbole involved in that statement, and that she did not literally mean that indeed “all Blacks are targeted”.
Still, consider this statement within the wider context of today’s America. Today in the United States we have an African-American President, Barack Obama, elected twice with the crucial support of millions of White voters. Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, and therefore the head of the entire federal justice system, is an African-American. The Homeland Security Secretary is an African-American. There are scores of African-Americans elected to Congress, not to mention Mayors, members of City Councils, members of State legislatures, admirals and generals, university professors, journalists, TV anchors, CEOs, famous artists, movie stars, athletes, senior police officers, and so on.
And yet the perception of millions of African-Americans is that we are back to the old practices prevalent during the dark days of legally sanctioned segregation, with all the lynchings, Ku Klux Klan violence, and open intimidation against Blacks.
Policemen should be held accountable
I have no doubt that in some instances the police have used excessive force, and that some killings of Black Americans by police officers are not justifiable. And just one person killed for no good reason by the police is enough to raise concerns. Any killing is a serious matter. And all police officers should be held accountable for their actions, just like everybody else.
We have a problem
But to go from here to the widely shared perception that White police brutality is systemic and that more than 40 million Black Americans are now targets of excessive use of force that includes deliberate killings is a bit much.
That said, this is clearly a major problem. America cannot pretend that this racial divide does not exist, or that it will magically go away by itself.
I am not sure what should be done to re-establish a constructive dialogue that will recreate trust between Black and Whites, but our leaders should do something.