I am sick of the killings. I don’t want black men shot in the streets. I don’t want cops shot by a sniper. I don’t want children shot in schools. I do not want any of this.
When I began writing this blog entry only the Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights shootings had happened – then came the police officers murdered in Dallas – something so shattering that it was hard to take it all in at first. I want to go ahead and deal with the first two murders and then follow that with my reactions to Dallas.
Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights:
It is not sufficient to speak a few words of outrage. It is not sufficient to just pray. It is time to act. As a white male I must acknowledge my part of a group (yes, I am speaking of white privilege here) that has held power over others and at the same time, refused to see or admit to that dynamic. It is real and it must be addressed. Here are a few suggestions and they have been suggested by others in different forums.
1. Speak out – especially to other white folks that don’t seem to get it. Challenge others when they make racist or sexist comments. Don’t worry about being unpopular. Your silence is taken as consent and does not help at all.
2. Join or support groups that are leading the protest movement. In Philadelphia I have two suggestions for you to examine. I am not very good at this computer stuff so you may have to do a bit of work but if you google or go to facebook check out these groups: P.O.W.E.R. Interfaith group (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) and the Philly Coalition for R.E.A.L. Justice. REAL = racial, economic and legal. Subscribe to their websites. Support them financially if you can. Join them in the streets if you are able. There is a DNC Convention coming to Philly and there will be chances to have your voice heard then.
3. Educate yourself. I have two suggestions and again suggest google or facebook as a beginning. Look up Henry Giroux – he writes often and deeply about the political situation in this country.
Look up Michael Arnovitz – he has written a lot about the current political campaign. You can friend them both on facebook and get comments as they post new one ones.
4. Vote. This election is important – we must remove Toomey from the U.S. Senate. His votes against gun control are abominable. Do not be fooled by the sham bill that he presented a few years ago – one that he knew had no chance of passing and one that he refused to raise again, saying basically “Well, it would not pass anyway.” The Presidential campaign is important. If you cannot see that Trump is a demagogue who is supported by white power groups (and who he panders to) then please do some reading of Giroux and Arnovitz. Is Hillary Clinton the antidote? – not entirely but before you condemn her by listening to the Limbaugh’s of the world, read some of Arnovitz – especially the article he wrote that examined how the hatred of Hillary goes back to the time when she, as first lady, worked on universal health care. This of course was followed by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act – and then think for a moment of the racial animus that the right wing has spread about him for eight years (birther movement, lies that he is a Muslim, and so on and so on). Think about the tea party Republican (Joe Walsh) who recently put out a facebook post saying “This is war. Watch out Obama.” – and then pulled a Trumpism by saying he was not threatening the President. It is not possible to support people that have so much hate in their heart.
The murder of five police officers that were protecting protest marchers is almost unfathomable. The voices who are calling for all sides to have a conversation about how to prevent tragedy need to be heeded. The two groups I mentioned above may be a place where this conversation can be held locally.
I support the police and their appropriate role in our society and I wish to share a story (that I have talked about on other blog posts) about the time when I was teaching in Allentown, Pa. I needed to take a second job and I worked as a mental health counselor in the Lehigh Valley. We worked in un-armed pairs and were constantly on call. When a home visit was required the local police were also called to the scene. There were at least half a dozen times when we were threatened with violence through the use of a gun, a knife, a razor blade, or fists. The police never failed to place themselves between us and the threat – disarming the situation immediately. I came to know many officers personally and respected them for the danger they faced every day. We spent a lot of time in police stations and in court. My fellow counselors and I also met some officers, a very few, who we wondered about – why were some of these officers armed with a gun and a badge? They did not have the temperament to do that work well.
As a teacher I have witnessed people talking about “bad” teachers, teachers needing to be held ‘accountable’, and teachers needing to be fired. Too often this talk scapegoats teachers when we need to really talk about how we can support and value public education and look at root causes of poorly functioning schools. Can we not have the same conversations about policing in our society without scapegoating all of the police officers with a broad brush? Can we not have a conversation about how to reach and maintain a civil society while at the same time acknowledging that there are some police officers who do not have the temperament to be part of that solution?
There is much work to be done – I hope that you, the reader, will become active in this process of necessary change. I welcome any comments or criticisms at this email address: