I read an interesting article on risk this morning. “When Safety Proves Dangerous.”
It mentions one idea (risk transference) that feels to me as if it might be related to problems we’re seeing in policing in America. I believe that rich (and frequently white) people have used the police to make themselves feel safer, while ignoring the fact that they’ve transferred the risks to poor (and frequently Black or brown) communities. Since we’re raised to believe that people not like us are not as real as we are, not as valuable as we are, it makes it easier to ignore the damage our policies are doing to other humans.
We’ve literally dehumanized each other.
I believe that among many other changes that we need, we need to change the methods, aims, and culture of our police.
Changing the structure of policing doesn’t necessarily mean shifting the risk back to the rich people (which is what is white people fear) …we know that the rich people will never let that happen.
If done well, it might mean reducing the risk level for everyone. IMHO, the possibility of this actually happening hinges on a change away from behavior change modeled as punishment.
I’m not smart enough to guess what that model might look like. I’ve seen some indications that other countries have found more humane policing structures. In any case, it’s clear that the punishment model of law enforcement is not working.
When we see something stated starkly as ‘Beatings will continue until morale improves,‘ we recognize the absurdity of it, but we accept variations of that every day.
When police respond to protests against police violence with even more extreme police violence, many of us will just see it as ‘getting the situation under control,’ entirely missing the absurdity of it.
These riots will eventually end, as previous summers of violence have. But at some point, we as a nation have to do something about the underlying problems, because even if the people in power can ignore the injustice, the people suffering will not forget it.
Nor should we, who are less directly affected by the injustice. Because guess what? We all are affected by it. This is a poison in our nation, like the lead in the water in Flint. The systemic racism, the violence against the disenfranchised persons in our communities, is a bit like the coronavirus. Like the virus, it may be invisible to us, but it is no less deadly.
Note: This post is probably even rougher than my usual ranting. It’s because I’m trying to write something for my other blog, and this stuff kept churning in my mind, so I thought I’d type it out to get it out of my thoughts.