Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This Concerns ALL of Us (With an Update)

Sadly, it seems that almost every day there is some new case of police abuse, including the killing of unarmed persons, often of color, often poor.  The case of Sandra Bland is certainly one case, one that should not have happened; no matter from which angle one chooses to view it.  May she rest in peace and may her family somehow find the strength and comfort to continue on.  The case of Jonathan Ferrell is another.  Here is an article about one juror's view of the recent mistrial. UPDATE:  The death of mentally-ill Jamycheal Mitchell in VA, who was jailed for months for stealing $5.00 worth of groceries, has just been reported in an article at The Guardian.  One commenter suggested e-mailing the mayor of Portsmouth, VA to demand a full investigation  (mayor@portsmouthva(dot)gov).

Seeing this unfold, I have firmly believed that this should concern each one of us.  Although African-Americans may be disproportionately affected now, unfortunately, some signs show that it may not stop there.  Already, the mentally ill are also disproportionately affected by police violence.

Around Father's Day back in June, one of the C-Spans had a program commemorating the anniversary of James Baldwin's debate with William Buckley at the Oxford Union.  Although I'm not always totally with Baldwin, he certainly makes some good points.  He also has some very interesting and some even prescient things to say in an article recently reprinted and brought up by a fellow TI'er:  this interview.  

Following that C-Span show encouraged me to look further online, I found this, from his essay called "Nothing Personal."  I don't really care for a lot of the essay, but this one part really seems to speak to what we're going through today:

"If a society permits one portion of its citizenry to be menaced or destroyed, then, very soon, no one in that society is safe. The forces thus released in the people can never be held in check, but run their devouring course, destroying the very foundations which it was imagined they would save. But we are unbelievably ignorant concerning what goes on in our country--to say nothing of what goes on in the rest of the world--and appear to have become too timid to question what we are told."

In other words: Black Lives Matter, yes,and we should all be concerned with that because --- ultimately we all may be affected.  The forces affecting you today may be aimed at me tomorrow.  We need to build bridges between us all, not negating the struggles of African-Americans with law-enforcement, but by recognizing the truth that we need to look out for one another both for altruistic concern and for future self-interest.

Rev. Chris Hedges has made this point in a great essay which is certainly worth reading.

I'm tired of reading the horrible stories of police abuse, of the killing of unarmed persons, often of color.  We need to confront the way policing is done, decreasing its militarization for one thing. We need to confront other abuses in the legal system.  We need to confront systemic and institutional racism.  We need to confront economic and societal injustices that cut across many lines.  And we must do this TOGETHER.

Remember:  "Divided = Conquered, But United = Empowered!"

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