An Epidemic of Police Violence on Communities of Color

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An Epidemic of Police Violence on Communities of Color


By Javier Cervantes


A friend sent me this report that made me think a little. So I had to respond.


The claim that there is a double standard as it applies to the little outrage over the killing of an unarmed White male shot by a Black officer serves as a classic example of trying to distract from the primary issue at hand: there is an epidemic of police targeting communities of color often ending in catastrophic outcomes.


The Utah example is a tragic event, and the life of a young man was snuffed out prematurely is indeed devastating for his loved ones and community; but the reality is that it is an outlier and an exception, not the rule. I would hope that NO family has to suffer through the loss of a loved one in such a violent way, regardless of race. However, it is a false equivalency to compare the killing of this White Utah man by a Black cop to the year after year, month after month slayings committed by police—the majority of whom are White cops—killing Black men and other men of color. And this is saying nothing of the systemic profiling and/or mass incarceration of said communities. But let’s break this down a little:


1) The number of local police on a national scale demonstrates that “about 1 in 4 officers were members of a racial or ethnic minority in 2007, compared to 1 in 6 officers in 1987.” The number is decreasing as the racial and ethnic diversity of the US is increasing, according to the figures provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.


2) White men are not systemically oppressed as are communities of color, such as  Blacks and Latinos as it relates to the criminal justice system.


3) Media reports more often than not, describe Black crime in a more pejorative way than crime committed by White offenders.


4) Let’s not forget that there is such a thing as White privilege that invisibly keeps White Supremacy in place.


5) White culture is rarely—at least from what I have seen—ever portrayed as a violent culture or having a propensity for violence.  Communities of color are often portrayed by the media almost as if violence is a genetic predisposition to said communities.


I could go on and on, but I will not. Here is my main thesis: the lack of moral outrage over the rare shooting of an unarmed White male by a Black officer does not, and probably will not, equate to the systemic slayings and violence committed against Black men and other men of color by law enforcement that has happened since the founding of this country, period. To equate this uncommon and rare tragedy to the minority experience is a false equivalency and borders on intellectual laziness as part of a distraction tactic. If a person wants to debate police violence as a general topic, I will gladly do so, but to cast aspersions as if Black cops are profiling Whites is absurd.


Timothy B. Tyson said, “If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.” All life is precious and equally valuable. Simple, right?


Javier Cervantes is a writer and educator in Albany, Oregon.


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