Thinking about young black men and police officers

By Jason Criss Howk 

I can’t stop thinking about this week of violence in America and the reactions to it. Some reactions are divisive and others are useful. For many this is just too confusing to comment on because everything said is misunderstood. 

I will jump in the breach again as I just finished breakfast with my friend and his family who would be considered an interracial couple by many people, as we in America can’t seem to accept the fact that there should only be one race…the human race. They just returned from duty in South Africa where they were scrutinized by the local community as they went about their daily life, but surprised even more by the looks they got back in the states. I just call them a loving couple because that’s what they are. 

I watched his smart and funny son during our two hours of socializing and thought about him being pulled over by police 10 years from now and how he would be treated. 

I thought all night about my little buddy from Texas, that is now entering his senior year in high school. I think about him driving his truck to work just two hours north of Dallas. How is he being treated by police this week?

I remembered going to sports events with the child I was mentoring and filling in for his father that wasn’t in the picture or the state. I remember walking in parking lots and holding his tiny hand so he wouldn’t step in front of a car and I distinctly remember the looks I got as a “white” guy in Texas and Oklahoma holding the hand of a “black” child. 
What is going to help America unite and stop being divisive in our speech and actions?

We need to look at the ideologies that makes violence so prevalent during police confrontations?  

We need to get the police off-edge. They are stressed out right now. We need to make sure young “black” men feel safe when they walk out of the house that they will return. 

We will get there by uniting and talking. By putting ourselves in each other’s shoes…knowing it’s impossible to really get there but being willing to try. 

Get our communities into the front seat of the squad car so they can get to know the police and spend time learning about their daily routine. Get the police into the living rooms and on the porches of the community to share a lunch or iced tea so that police can listen and understand how their citizens are doing.

Further segregating ourselves into groups based on skin pigment or country of ancestry isn’t a solution. It’s just not and we need to admit that. Shouting racist cops and modern lynching isn’t solving anything and at this point is doing the opposite of raising awareness. Stereotyping all “white” people as racists is just driving us apart. Blaming violence in urban communities on the broken family may be partially factual but it’s not advancing a solution. Pointing out the large numbers of “black-on-black” crime may be factual but again isn’t a solution and just makes people think no one is listening to what is scaring young black men. 

We must keep talking about solutions and enacting them but irresponsible language is only going to further ignite hatred and push people that subscribe to violent or supremacist ideologies to act out and kill. 

Police must meet high standards of conduct, like those in Dallas did by protecting the same people that had just been protesting them. 

Citizens must meet high standards of conduct too by helping to make neighborhood’s safe and law abiding. 

I’m listening to my friends of all race, creed, and color, and will continue my mission to help young people succeed no matter where they come from or where they are in life. 

How would you talk to your son if he was worried about being killed by a police officer tonight?

How would you talk to your son if he put on his badge and gun and said he was worried he would be ambushed responding to a 911 call tonight?

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