Yesterday, I made a quick video in response to the Derek Chauvin verdicts and got tangled up in all sorts of otherisation and discrimination traps. These issues are not straightforward and they are not separate, but occur across the entire human spectrum and as such are intertwined.
Issues of otherisation and discrimination are complex and that it isn’t merely only about skin colour.
Far too often, when white police officers kill black people, it is.
But their issues with fear, insularity, conditioning and guns need to be addressed too. In the video, I mention civilian gun ownership but, of course, whether police officers are armed or not goes hand in hand with that.
Proportionality has gone missing, too, in policing and a lot of that also has to do with racism and socioeconomic inequality.
I’ve talked about that in the past here in the UK. When I see that a poor sod is prosecuted because he stole a sandwich, while I know that rich and famous folks can get away with just about anything (think only Savile if you want a striking example ), I know that this is just about policing targets (numbers of arrests and numbers of successful prosecutions).
Successful prosecutions are much easier to obtain when you are dealing with poor sods, people who are not expected to be able to mount a useful defence in any kind of situation.
I used to work in tourism and hospitality. Counterfeit bills are a fact of life. Even if George Floyd did happen to pay for his groceries with a bill that happened to be a counterfeit bill, it did not warrant this utterly over-the-top response from the police. He was treated as if he had just murdered his wife or his child!
So that, too needs to be addressed. Proportionality in policing because it’s directly related to inequality, to otherisation and discrimination.
Otherisation begets otherisation and discrimination begets discrimination and erodes trust.
Otherisation and discrimination also lead to marginalisation and socioeconomic inequality, including the now so frequently mentioned health disparities.
I wish I had a magic solution. I don’t. But I can also see how we all learn from these struggles if we somehow manage to cross all the many chasms. Easier said than done.
Ever since the verdict, I’ve been wondering how this makes black people feel, not just in the US but also elsewhere. This afternoon, as I returned some library books, I walked by a bunch of black youngsters and I wondered if they were feeling any different. More at ease, more respected as human beings, perhaps. And safer? How about people in the US?
I think that we need to talk to one another, across the various artificial lines that we’ve drawn on the basis of ONE ASPECT of another person’s appearance.