The candidates in this election cycle were asked how they would repair the broken relationship and trust between the African American communities and the police. In my opinion, their answers were vague and lacked real substance that we can employ in the repair process.
First, for progress to effect positive change specifically between African Americans and the police, members of the African American communities must come together and do some housekeeping. They must train their kids from an early age to respect other people, also people of authority and school officials, and people’s property. They must be taught that the life of another is just as precious as their own and the value of an education is the foundation to a successful life. Families must collectively instill discipline and show love to their kids in order for that child to grow and have compassion for others who may not look and act like them.
Secondly, law enforcement officers must stop being condescending and disrespectful towards minority citizens and those who are also economically disadvantaged. There must be a new dawn in the way officers enforce the law which is often applied differently and harshly when minorities are involved. When discretion is being applied, it should be applied through a dark veil where the color, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation of the citizens and not to a particular group in society who are disparately treated. Meaning, certain members should not be arrested for a petty disorderly while the other members of society are given curbside adjustments.
Third, our educators must try to educate all the youths regardless of their ethnicity. When minorities and especially African Americans are disciplined and/or subjected to out of school suspensions and drug tested at a higher rate than their peers, that contributes to them having a lower self-worth value what stays with them into their adult life. With the feeling of despair, they tend to act more aggressively towards other authoritative figures (police, teachers, judges).
Fourth, the criminal justice system needs to revisit their policies and sentencing guidelines for low-level statutory violations against society. In addition to the pretrial intervention program that is in place, how about having low-level offenders speak to an audience of middle school and high students about the consequences of violating the law as part of their community service sentence?
Change will not happen overnight but through individual efforts from the affected members of society, law enforcement, educators and the criminal justice system, we can start repairing the tattered social relationship between the police and the disenfranchised citizens.