What We Must Do

It’s been a horrific week for police violence. Alton Sterling was murdered for the “crime” of selling CDs. Philando Castile was murdered for the “crime” of exercising his Second Amendment rights and driving while black. Castile’s slaughter was so egregious that even many of the white folk who typically find some infinitesimal fault on the part of the black man that excuses his extrajudicial execution have to admit this one was pure, undeserved slaughter. Not that they haven’t tried. They always try. It can never be the police who are to blame.

And as protestors peacefully gathered, a sniper in Dallas shot down cops and protestors alike, in a city that was trying to get it right. This will be all the excuse some people need to declare war upon people of color in this country. Not that a clandestine war wasn’t already being waged. Black folk in this country might as well be living in a war zone, see. They’re certainly dying as if they are.

And you may be feeling helpless right now. You may have no idea what to do with your rage and sorrow and pain. If, like me, you’re white, you may not know what do to with the power invested in you by the color of your skin.

Are you ready to listen? Because people of color are telling us what they need. This is what we must do.

Ijeoma Oluo has an entire list of the things you should find out about your local police departments, and what to do with that information. Click it now. Go down it, step by step. Do not stop until you reach the end.

She’s also asking for volunteers:

I need a web developer.
I need grantwriters/fundraisers.
I need researchers.
I need whatever the fuck I can’t think of right now.

If you have skills and time you can donate, sign up here.

Here are 15 ways to end police brutality. Let your local, state, and federal politicians know you want them implemented. Don’t let up until they are.

If you see a person of color being confronted by the police, stop and record.

Be a better ally. Here’s how.

Don’t share images and video of black bodies being brutalized. Humanize the murdered people. Share details about their lives. Show them as the living, breathing, complex, wonderful human beings they were.

Unfriend your racist relatives and friends. Your friends and family of color deal with enough racist bullshit without having to put up with it on your wall. Also, it’s time for those engaging in racist behavior to face the consequences.

Demand police be held accountable for their brutality. You don’t leave the bad apple in the barrel. You get it the fuck out of there. The same thing needs to happen with racist, corrupt, law-breaking, brutal cops.

Listen to the cops who are telling you what’s broken and what needs to be fixed about policing. Listen to them when they talk about the dysfunction of us-vs-them thinking that’s rampant in the ranks.

Educate yourself on race and racism.

Educate yourself on ways to combat police brutality. Learn ways to increase police accountability. Encourage your local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to implement these ways to combat bias and reduce racism.

Graphic shows blue, green, and salmon boxes with simple graphics, showing the steps to end police brutality: 1. End broken windows policing. 2. Community oversight. 3. Limit use of force. 4. Independently investigate and prosecute. 5. Community representation. 6. Body cams/film the police. 7. Training. 8. End for-profit policing. 9. Demilitarization. 10. Fair police union contracts.
Image courtesy Campaign Zero.

Don’t shoot the police. That won’t solve this. It’ll only make it worse.

Raise a fuss about police executing people with drones.

If you want to save police lives as well as civilians, get rid of guns. Maybe even disarm the police. And resolve the us-vs-them mentality that is driving the current waves of violence.

Acknowledge it’s not just black lives that are devalued by the police: anyone with brown skin, or a disability, or a mental illness, is at risk.

Absolutely stop with the All Lives Matter bullshit.

Do you still need to be convinced there’s a problem? Someone in your life who needs some evidence stuffed in their face? Here you go:

A Multi-Level Bayesian Analysis of Racial Bias in Police Shootings at the County-Level in the United States, 2011–2014

Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates

There’s more. There’s so much more, but you are now equipped to find it. Go seek out the voices of people of color. Shut up and listen. Raise your voice to the people in power. Call. Write. Vote. March. Do everything you can. Because if we don’t pull together, it’s going to get so much worse.

Image shows Alton Sterling on the left, wearing an aqua polo shirt and a smile. He is stocky, with very short hair. On the right is Philando Castile, who is wearing a royal blue polo shirt, a backwards black cap, and has his hair in long twists.

What We Must Do

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