The Benefit of Discord
2016 has been marked with an inordinate amount of discord in the arenas of politics, race relations, and criminal justice.
Long before it hit the media at large, the Black community faced, on a daily basis, the disproportionate targeting of Black men by the police; and with it the cover ups by the blue code of silence.
When I grew up in the North, discrimination was viewed as a Southern phenomenon. There were no lynchings or Jim Crow laws, so the North held itself blameless. But institutional racism existed, and is still an only partially resolved disgrace.
Equal justice before the law has been both an American ideal and an American myth. Statistics show that Blacks are arrested more frequently than their White counterparts for committing the same minor crimes.
Many police officers are schooled at shooting ranges where the target is a black male silhouette. The subliminal message imprinted on their minds: “If it’s black, shoot it.”
Today, the atrocities of murder by cop are being recorded on body cams and bystander smart phones. What was hidden is now being exposed. And in some cases pent-up rage is erupting in the streets. Yet violence did not originate in the “hood,” but in the slave master’s whip emblazoned over generations in the DNA of Black folk. In fact, conflict is an integral part of American history. After all, our country was not birthed from the British-American Peace Talks, but from the Revolutionary War.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad. Years ago, my husband was pulled over by a White policeman for driving seven miles above the speed limit. When the officer peered into our car, he remarked, “Sir, you have a lovely family and I won’t embarrass you with a ticket in front of your beautiful children, so please drive slower and have a nice day.” Yes, this police officer was respectful and kind. Still, acknowledging the good does not excuse the bad.
“All things work together for good …,” a phrase often repeated in our houses of worship. The unrest that we see today constitutes the surfacing of anger, distrust, hopelessness and prejudice that fester beneath the surface in the minds of both law enforcement and the communities they serve. Once buried, these feelings are now erupting, and their existence can no longer be denied. America is purging, and amidst the disruption is a huge opportunity for honesty, dialogue, level headedness, understanding, and solutions. At its best, healing is the benefit that will arise from discord.
~written by Amy Bryant, Safety Harbor resident blogger
Author of You CAN Go Home Again
Tom – Thank you for your comment. I welcome differing perspectives when they are presented thoughtfully and respectfully as you did.
Very thoughtful and well written but I must make one observation:
You refer to gun range training targets and state “The subliminal message imprinted on their minds: “If it’s black, shoot it.””
I believe you damage your credibility when you make a “stretch” association of this kind. As a retired LEO who trained along side numerous others of color, I feel compelled to tell you that the color of the target never conjured any such feelings among any of us.
Am I in more danger of being shot by police if I wear a black suit to a funeral?
What color would you have the training target be?
Red? Can’t do that, Native Americans.
Yellow? Can’t do that, Asian Americans.
Green? Nope, Irish Americans.
Please, there is plenty for you to write about. Don’t waste the power of your words with dubious associations like this.
Amy, I share the hope that by bringing light to our shadow sides we can gain some healthy perspective. In today’s (10/10/16) Tampa Bay Times, columnist Emily Badger writes about “implicit bias” — a psychological characteristic of human interaction– and how discussions about it are often met with defensiveness rather than interest in what scientists are learning about our human nature. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we can, as individuals, bring understanding and, when needed, control to our impulses. Thanks as always for your giving us openings to important conversation.
Barbara – Thanks for adding your perspective to the conversation.
hear, hear. Rhea