“If an unarmed colored man is shot down and dies in his tracks, a jury, under the influence of this spirit, does not hesitate to find the murdered man the real criminal, and the murderer innocent.” Frederick Douglass stated this in “The Color Line” in 1881. In 2014 in her study, Kassia Kulaszewicz reported something very similar, “As contrast, in the event of a White officer as the shooter of a Black man, the officer’s actions are justified or supported regardless of the criminality of the officer’s own actions.” In 133 years, this has not changed because we are continuously exposed to seeing inequalities amongst people. For our nation to heal, we need to turn off the outpouring faucet of racism through the unacceptable use of unnecessary force used by police officers blinded by color. We then need to clean up the damage that was left behind by the media by showing only events that boost their ratings.
Turn Off The Faucet
Nobody should have to leave their house and fear the people who are there to protect them. But some people do. Although not all policemen are corrupt, all it takes is a few rotten eggs to change how entire communities view them. These rotten eggs are the reason reform is of utmost importance. Officers where body cams when they are on duty, and that camera records interactions they have. This camera alone, however, is not enough to stop racially biased officers, especially if they are unconscious of this bias. What good is a recording if no one watches it. That being the case, creating a job where a psychologist or other person in a position of correct authority watches these recordings and takes action based on their findings could be a progressive action. This gives the unconsciously biased a chance to examine their biases, which is essential for them to see what they are doing and enforce change. However, if someone is purposely biased and demonstrates it because it is what they believe, it is almost impossible to change their mind. In this case, these people should be given a reasonable amount of time to get themselves in check, and if there is no change should be moved to positions where they can’t cause any harm. This is not all that needs to be done, but it certainly would be a step in the right direction so that all mothers know that their protectors won’t be the reason their children don’t come home.
“Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”
Cleaning Up the Damage
Media coverage ranging from television channels to internet articles to Instagram has become a part of American citizens’ daily lives. However, not all of the media coverage is unbiased. News channels decide which stories to report on and which ones not to, but a lot of the time, the events they choose to report are not the most important but instead grab the most attention. An example is showing a minor altercation where the victims are white, and the perpetrators are black. The way these stories depict people of color is how some people become unconsciously biased, which is how people discriminate without even knowing they are doing so. Choosing the criteria for headlines needs to change. Instead of choosing an event that boosts views because of how communities of color are shown, which only fuels racists ideas, we should select happenings that are the most important for the citizens of an area to know about. We should rely on our newscasts to tell us what’s going on rather than making us fear fellow people so they can increase their ratings.
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcom X
There is no better time than now to start reform. As a country, we must work to heal what has been hurt by the racially biased. Becoming proactive and preventing the brutality of police officers will begin our journey to a better, safer place. Additionally, giving different criteria to news organizations will limit the idea that people have in their minds about the behavior of a person because of the color of their skin. The disease of racism doesn’t only affect the media and police but also everyday people. Everyone can assist in the remedy, whether it be recognizing your privilege and using it to work against systemic racism or merely calling someone out for a racist “joke.” We all need to work together to combat and cure this lethal condition.