Well, Fuck.

Hey guys I’m back! And I literally had a million ideas for blog posts over the last 2 weeks but today I feel like I need to address what happened in El Cajon a couple nights ago. First of all to be honest with you, I don’t want to address it. I would much rather write about my best friend’s wedding and how I believe life tends towards healing, or the intrinsic white privilege baked into touching someone’s hair without their permission or asking “Can I touch your hair?” as you’re already reaching. But another black man was unnecessarily killed by the police and this time it happened in my city, so yeah I have to fucking talk about it. The fun part is that I’m not sure what to say. Like what do you even say at this point? It’s all the same shit. This time the police used unnecessary force to handle a man whose behavior was “erratic” due to mental illness. Honestly, can you imagine calling 911 for help for your brother and then the help that comes shows up and shoots him? Do you still wonder why black people don’t trust the police? Do you understand the history of policing in black communities, how the police force evolved from slave patrols, and do you still wonder why black people don’t trust the police?

I’m not saying police are bad. In fact, at this point if you still think that’s what I’m saying, with how much I’ve written about the necessity and bravery of police men and women, I don’t think you’re smart enough to read this blog. Straight up. Maybe find something else with a lower reading comprehension level.  But for those of you who can understand, you know that this isn’t JUST about the police. This isn’t Us vs. Them. This is “WE need to address some of the root problems affecting the portion of ‘Us’ we’ve assigned to be our defenders.” We need discussion; we need problem solving and action steps. As my beautiful friend Kara put it way better than I can, we need more de-escalation training, we need mental health sensitivity training, we need to reiterate that the use of lethal force is a LAST RESORT, we need to DISCUSS THE HISTORY OF THE POLICE FORCE AS IT RELATES TO LONGSTANDING RACIST PRACTICES. This isn’t Us vs. Them – everyone wants to make it that because that’s easier. It’s easy to pick an enemy and say “That’s it, you’re my enemy, I don’t have to listen to you anymore because you’re the Other.” But we’re more evolved than this, aren’t we? We’ve developed higher levels of cognition for this very thing. To be able to talk to each other. To discuss. To listen. To empathize.  To build and to be better.

But part of that, is admitting that we have a problem. That our police departments have been over militarized, that our brave men and women on the police force are not immune to implicit biases. That the way we’ve portrayed black people in the media and historically has affected them as it has all of us. Kara made a great point in her blog, she asked if anyone knew the statistics on how many movies with a predominantly black cast had violence, drugs, or “the ghetto” as a major plot point. I don’t know the stats obviously but I would bet a significant amount of money that they're high. What messages have we disseminated about who black people are and where they come from? How many ways have we told audiences that black men are to be feared or controlled and black women are to be fucked or discarded? Sit with the discomfort in honesty. And then try to tell me that we don’t have work to do.

Femi Olafioye-OmogbehinComment