Thursday, July 28, 2016

Keeping Tabs on Policing

It's time to let go of all the tabs I've been keeping open about policing, the killings of black people, and the protests that have followed.

The grief that white Americans cannot share. By the marvelous Nikole Hannah-Jones, for the New York Times. "I needed to get to work, but the last thing I wanted to do was make small talk about inane things with people for whom this might be a tragedy, but an abstract one. To many white Americans, the killings of black men and women at the hands of the state, are individual incidents, each with a unique set of circumstances. For white people, who have been trained since birth to see themselves as individuals, the collective fear and collective grief that black Americans feel can be hard to grasp."

Also by Nikole Hannah-Jones, this time from Politico: A letter from Black America. Yes, we fear the police. Here's why.

46 stops: the driving life and death of Philando Castile. From NPR's Codeswitch podcast.

The strange fruit of the equity and empathy gap. "We have a profound... equity and empathy gap. What the too frequent impunity of police in disproportionate killing of Black men and the market competition and no-excuses behavioral prescriptions for school improvement have in common, is a failure to imagine the life experience of another. It is particularly difficult for the empowered to visualize what it is like to be disempowered, especially without social pressure to do so. And, without forging common cause, even small differences in relative powerlessness lead to a failure to empathize. In the last three decades, our ability as a nation to engage in multiple-perspective taking appears to have deteriorated."

Why we fail when we try to talk about race in America. By Eddie Glaude, professor of African American studies at Princeton. "Our conversations fail because we refuse to accept what such conversations demand: an honest reckoning with the ugliness of who we are and the racial habits and fears that animate our way of life.... We have to tackle head on what Professor Imani Perry calls our cultural practice of inequality. Easy appeals to unity in a moment of collective trauma will not help us do that. They will only deepen our national malaise."

Why highways have become the center of civil rights protests (by Emily Badger in the Washington Post). The interstate blocked in St. Paul, for instance, "a half-century ago, was constructed at the expense of St. Paul's historically black community. Interstate 94, like urban highways throughout the country, was built by erasing what had been black homes, dispersing their residents, severing their neighborhoods and separating them from whites who would pass through at high speed."

Is it okay to protest on a freeway? By local geographer and sidewalk advocate Bill Lindeke. "Civil disobedience is always breaking a rule, whether it’s “whites only” or “no stopping on the street.” I-94 between the downtowns carries 200,000 cars a day and is the most heavily used part of our road system. If the goal is to raise awareness of an issue, by changing the geography of the demonstration from a local street to a freeway, you’re turning up the volume so that everyone in the entire Twin Cities has to pay attention, for better or worse."

Something is rotten in the state of Minnesota. From Politico. "The Twin Cities... [are] home to some of the worst racial disparities in the country. In metrics across the board—household income, unemployment rates, poverty rates and education attainment—the gap between white people and people of color is significantly larger in Minnesota than it is most everywhere else." This underpins the killings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile in my own back yard.

Five ways to reduce racial bias in traffic stops. By David Levinson, geographer at the University of Minnesota. Including automated enforcement (cameras).

Pitfalls with police recruitment in the U.S. From Think Progress. Recruiting people with aggressive personalities, using violent videos. What could go wrong?

Related: The case for more female cops. From Pacific Standard. "Preference for nonviolence does not constitute physical weakness. The NCWP report cites studies indicating that women’s typically smaller stature doesn’t hurt their survival in the field. When physical force is required, training—not brute strength—better predicts success. Meanwhile, communication skills important for defusing dangerous situations, commonly measured as higher among female officers, are under-emphasized in officer-selection standards—hiring criteria that would encourage less violent male recruits, too. In these ways, a police force over-fueled by testosterone endangers not just women but people of any gender most likely to come into contact with police, including people of color or in poverty."

The life of a police officer: medically and psychologically ruinous. From The Atlantic.  One of the toughest articles I've ever read. And policing isn't working for cops, either (from Waging Nonviolence, via Bill Moyers).

How science could prevent police shootings. From Mother Jones. For instance, data analysis in Charlotte, N.C., found that "when three or more officers responded to a domestic-violence call, they were much less likely to use force than when only two officers were called to the scene."

How white liberals used civil rights to create more prisons. A discussion of Naomi Murakawa's book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison in America in The Nation. "More people are under correctional supervision in the United States than were in the Gulag archipelago at the height of the Great Terror; there are more black men in prison, jail, or parole than were enslaved in 1850. How did this happen?"

A brief history of the "War on Cops": the false allegation that enables police violence. From Truthout. "Numerous sources confirm that there is no such war. Last year was one of the safest on record for police officers, and even with the targeted killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, being a police officer does not rate as one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country. It is far less dangerous than logging, fishing, or roofing." Or driving a taxi, I would note.

Remember to look for Chris Hayes's new book, due out in March 2017: A Colony in a Nation. Here's the description: "America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, but nearly every empirical measure―wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation―reveals that racial inequality hasn’t improved since 1968. Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order; fear trumps civil rights; and aggressive policing resembles occupation. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?"

What about solutions? Here are some.

The first in a series by Shaun King for the Daily News: Solutions for police brutality can begin with our overwhelmingly white male justice system.

The change we need: five issues that should be part of efforts to reform policing in local communities. From the Advancement Project.

Ideas for a cop-free world. It's time to start imagining a society that isn't dominated by police. From Rolling Stone. I think these ideas are similar to the current thinking of Black Lives Matter when they bring out the signs that say "Abolish the Police." Also discussed more recently by Mychal Denzel Smith in Abolish the police: Instead, let's have full social, economic, and political equality (from The Nation).

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