By Keith L. Anderson, Ph.D.
I like to consider myself multidimensional. I believe I can be for something and not against something else. The one thing I’m trying to do, and we learn this in our journey in order to be a somewhat successful parent, I have to be able to say when I’m wrong. If I can’t do this my children would see me as unreasonable. The same goes for America. We’ve got to STOP holding on to traditions, beliefs, and attitudes that were once acceptable and considered true, but now tear us apart. Things in this country have changed. There isn’t a group of people in this country that can be considered ALL good, or ALL bad. There isn’t one job or occupation in this country, that everyone in it are ALL honest and noble or ALL bad and dishonest. It doesn’t exist! So, it stands to reason that there are bad teachers, pastors, policemen, accountants, doctors and parents. They come in ALL shapes, sizes and skin colors. Some of them are racist, hateful and mean. Then again there are some people in these same occupations that are nice and will give you the shirt off their backs.
We need to wake the hell up! There are some bad policemen. In fact, if there was any job that is likely to have a misuse of power, it would be policemen. Absolute power can be corruptive, even with people who are basically good people. Absolute power given to someone who is improperly trained or harbor racist tendencies, will destroy a society faster than the plague. NO! That doesn’t mean EVERY or even most policeman abuse their power. But, because these policemen oftentimes have the power over life and death, I want to know what percentage of bad policemen do you think is acceptable within the police force in your city? My thinking is this. As a society, we need to work as diligently as possible to make sure that bad people don’t become policemen. We need to train policemen to not think that pulling out their guns is the first line of defense. Non-professionals should be the only ones making those kinds of bad decisions.
We marvel at NFL quarterbacks because the truly good ones can read a defense. They know when to pass the ball and who to pass the ball to. They know when to pull the ball down and take whatever yardage they can get. If our team’s quarterback doesn’t know how to do that, we as fans, waste no time booing him. We get all emotional if our team’s quarterback doesn’t perform like a professional should perform and folks, it’s just a damn game. But when it comes to policemen not performing professionally, we start blaming the victim, especially if the victim is Black. We allow policemen to quarterback sneak a situation, when there are many other options than shooting to kill. Isn’t it possible that since the way people communicate has changed, maybe the training of policemen is obsolete?
I taught human communication for over 18 years. East coast people communicate differently than west coast people. People from rural communities communicate differently than people from urban communities. Communication styles different from one side of town to the other. People move into towns from all over the country and world. So, wouldn’t it stand to reason that police communication training be updated? I remember 15 years ago getting upset with a Mexican student because he wouldn’t look at me when he talked to me. He told me later that he was taught it was a sign of respect, to not look an adult in the eyes. I felt foolish. What would a policeman think? Would the policeman think the kid was acting suspicious? Would that be cause enough to handcuff him?
By the way, I wasn’t trying to be funny, by comparing policemen actions to NFL quarterbacks. I know being a policeman is a dangerous and difficult job. And I’ll tell you right now, I have the utmost respect for a GOOD policeman. I think they should be well paid so they don’t need to take second jobs. So, please do not think that I am against policemen. I’m against bad policemen. Just as I am against the criminals they have to deal with and arrest. What I am saying is that people who hold such a powerful job, even with its inherent dangers, have to be held to a higher standard than everyone else.
We are starting to see, in living video color, how our society has changed. We have people running for President of the United States who are dealing with the court system, before they are even elected. We’ve had Presidents get into trouble after becoming President. Nowadays, we know, they are shady beforehand and the American public still allows them to run for office. That has never happened before. On January 24, 2016 Donald Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” The audience laughed. In the back of his mind, I imagine him thinking these people will follow me, even if I lead them off the side of a cliff. Folks, we’re changing.
In light of the horrible shooting of policemen in Dallas, I like what I saw today, with Snoop Dog and friends. They went down to the LAPD to show the policemen that they support them. He said that they wanted to create an open dialogue. He and his friends are trying to show that Black people aren’t against policemen. Black people are against policemen shooting unarmed people in general and unarmed Black men in particular. Everyone should be against this, but we’re changing. I will say this, those of you who are constantly trying to pit Black Lives Matter, against Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, need to get a damn life. Of course everyone life should matter. The problem is young Black men’s lives don’t seem to matter. Believing Black Lives Matter doesn’t make a person believe that only Black Lives Matter. That’s an evil play on semantics, designed to lessen and even destroy the true underline cause. That underline cause is, please stop killing unarmed young Black men! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that message. However, it does take an evil racist to skew that message and make people believe it means something bad or wrong. Unfortunately, that has not changed.