I have huge respect for the work done by law enforcement and criminal justice; it is demanding, complex, scary, and crucial work. I am grateful to them for doing their best over and over again. It is beyond commendable.
Because we entrust them to maintain public safety and justice, we hold these professions to the highest standards of fairness. I think it is fitting given the power they wield.
Nearly every American is prejudiced against blacks (for example, see http://goo.gl/nGqeVY). In particular, we are scared of young, black men. I am; I’ve taken tests that lay bare my prejudiced reactions. Even black people are scared of black men. It’s a horrifying norm, but pretending it’s not there doesn’t make it go away.
That prejudice is making the lives of young black men hellish – not only on a day when they steal beer, but on many, many days when they are just living life. They are widely feared and treated poorly almost no matter what they do. When this “normal” treatment comes from the wider population, it is debilitating; when this treatment comes from police, it is deadly.
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We ask police, prosecutors, and juries to remember that “black lives matter,” because we need them to overcome prejudice. For the sake of young, black men, for the sake of all of us. We need them to do the difficult work of learning how to treat all people fairly and justly.
Then, I challenge you and me to do the same.