Human nature allows for compartmentalization to take place, sometimes as a matter of basic survival. With regards to race, the constructs of those compartments have been simplified over time, but nothing about their development has been inherently human or natural. Everything systematic about how we interpret race is calculated by intent rather than essence, and gun culture in America is unwavering proof of that fact.
Police brutality is a gun violence issue with racial connotations so implicit that they supersede the facts. Even onlookers who are genuinely distraught about both issues rarely draw a line between the two. Commercially – the method with which we consume news coverage, police brutality and gun violence couldn’t be portrayed any more differently.
No one discusses a police officer’s upbringing, his motivations, or previous violent interactions- as is traditionally the case in the media coverage of a murderer. It’s rare to see a police officers mugshot in print or online, even those convicted of covering up a homicide or planting evidence are almost always displayed smiling in uniform. More often than not however, a Black mans mugshot from a 5 year old crime plasters the front page when he is the victim of gun violence.
Racism is predicated in fear. Fear that Blacks will unseat Whites economically. Fear that justice will be inflicted equally. Fear that their parents were wrong. Any responsible gun owner will tell you that fear and firearms don’t mix. In fact, they might even say a scared person with a gun is the real threat to society.
Before I continue, I need to remind people that this is not an opinion piece based in passion. This is an editorial based in fact. Throughout the United States, the rate of police killings rises with the rate of civilian gun ownership. Which shouldn’t be hard to believe; young people who grow up in places with lax gun laws are more likely to kill when they grow up and become cops.
If the two issues were presented to Congress conjointly, with the same devotion from the multitude of groups who oppose gun violence and police brutality, federally regulated laws would be implemented for gun control and policing. Those laws may not save the lives of young Black men today, who are feared as soon as they leave the house, but it will begin to change the culture of diversion and misplaced rage that has plagued America since its insertion.
But why is state funded murder by police never referred to as gun violence? The answer to that is more simple than one may care to believe. The cookie cutter response from the media reflects the complicit protocol that has continually thwarted justice in this country; police chiefs protect their officers, prosecutors protect police chiefs, judges protect prosecutors. The only people unprotected in this scenario are the unarmed Black men who are perplexingly portrayed as intimidating no matter what.
Roofers experience more job related injuries and death than police officers, so why are they constantly fearing for their lives when interacting with Black people? Because they are affected by the same media images that influence the warped opinions of regular citizens. White nationalists are built, not born. The same can be said about the prejudices we all develop throughout are lives. The problem is however; every other professional is held to a higher standard of decision-making based on their occupation, police officers are alleviated of this obligation solely because the racial caste system that exists in this society allows it so.
Mostly white men commit mass shootings in America. Most police officer’s who shoot unarmed people are white men in America. Fortunately for them, every major publication in America is owned by a white man that is either consciously or subconsciously driving the status quo forward. There is no need to hypothesize how detrimental it would be to every fortune 500 company, and presumably America’s global stronghold for a period of time, if white men were portrayed as threatening in the media. The evidence is apparent in the consistent manner that every notion is categorically dismissed despite overwhelming evidence.
The clear and rational notion that white male patriarchy is being increasingly scrutinized scares the hell out of the poorest white people in America, who have always felt comfort and superiority over the rest of society solely due to their skin. That fear projects itself in a number ways, but it cannot be tolerated amongst public service officials. White supremacy has provided a medium for prejudicial fear to be acted upon with no consequences so long as the assailant wears a badge.
Again, the heightened level of fear that officers face with regards to interacting with Black subjects isn’t hyperbole meant to embellish the importance of this editorial; statistical evidence supports a greater propensity to inflict deadly force on minorities than whites. In a study on “weapon bias” performed at the University of North Carolina, police officers exhibited a much higher margin of error when asked to determine whether an African-American subject was holding a gun or a tool than when compared to a white subject.
When a state or city settles a wrongful death lawsuit while issuing no long-standing penalties to the assailants, they have affectively bought a citizens life with taxpayer money. Every police officer should feel compelled to exhibit the greatest level of behavioral consistency while interacting with civilians. Instead, an environment has been developed that promotes unaccountability due to public policies and media images that rationalize prejudice on a neurological level. In a country where guns are so readily accessible, the dehumanization of an entire race for the sake of maintaining a presumed sense of superiority has proven superlatively dangerous.
According to the Washington Post; the police have killed 399 people since the beginning of 2018, 27 more fatalities than this time last year. Police brutality is the key aspect of the gun control argument that proves federal regulation is mandatory, there can’t be loopholes or laws that apply to some areas of the country and not others if prolific change is to occur. Politicians who aren’t afraid of the NRA are required on every level for that to take place. When that transition occurs, it must be transparent – as the media organizations who’ve capitalized on white fear over the last century must equally earn redemption from the country.
Society needs to make a grave transition as well; one that awards our attention to public officials and media outlets that factually credit responsibility on a consistent level. We as consumers have to learn to abstain from sensationalized content that divides us by playing on our predispositions. The only reason police brutality and gun violence have surfaced in commercial publications is because of the influx of incidents being broadcasted by regular citizens on social media. Until we stop compartmentalizing our calls to arm, no pun intended, everyone without a voice in this country remains at risk of unpenalized gun violence.