I don’t like book clubs. Half the month I feel guilty about not getting the book, and the second half I feel guilty about doing Sudoku instead of reading. But as a solitary freelancer and parent to three young people, I do crave getting and sharing book and show suggestions from like-minded grownups. So I’m starting some new short posts about what I’m reading, listening to, and watching. It’ll be a photo + quote and maybe some quick thoughts. That’s it. Life is wild. I hope you’ll add suggestions for what engaging, thought-provoking, or hilarious stuff you’re taking in, too. So here we go…
What I’m Reading: “The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement” by Matthew Horace with Ron Harris
Matthew Horace worked as a law enforcement officer at the local and federal level for almost 30 years. He criss-crosses the country interviewing law enforcement leaders, sharing their personal stories, and offering important commentary on how these stories reflect on our larger policing issues and racism in America.
As I made my way north up Interstate-95, I thought about deadly police interactions with African-Americans and the difference in the two drug crises [crack and opiods]—one perceived as black and the other as white. Whether unconsciously or intentionally, American society is suffused with a racial bias that must be eradicated. When it comes to ailments and needs in the black community, the response is punitive and lacking. The incidents we routinely encounter which would be unacceptable in the white community, are shunted aside, ignored, or explained away, as if we were throwaway people, as if our lives didn’t matter. Our lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher rate of chronic diseases, lower income levels, and higher unemployment rates are all interrelated. These same dire statistics have been the underlying cause of black riots since the 1960s. Police are merely the flash point, the most immediate intersection between abrasive and discriminatory policies and the black public.
I thought about my fellow officers who are upset or feel betrayed about a movement that is directed at fighting against police. But my brothers in blue are wrong. The suspect has once again been misidentified. These protesters are not saying white lives don’t matter or that police lives don’t matter. Everything in America—from educational institutions to social networks, television, news, films, financial markets—says white lives do matter. Instead, the message is a demand and a plea for society to embrace African-Americans’ humanity. Black lives matter—too.
The wrongs inside police departments Are not about a handful of bad police officers. Instead, they reflect bad policing procedures and policies that many of our departments have come to accept as gospel. To fix the problems requires a realignment of our thinking about the role police play and how closely they as a group and as individuals are knitted into the fabric of society. Do they stand apart from societal norms or will they uphold their motto of “To Protect and Serve”? Are they to be looked at as men and women who sweep up the refuse left by our refusal or inability to tackle societal problems, or are they partners in our efforts to provide a vibrant and supportive community for all? The decision is ours.
Find it at your local library. Or get it at our local, independent bookseller Powell’s: click here.