Response to Mackenzie’s post “Operating in a State of Fear”

For some reason there is not an option to leave a comment on Mackenzie’s post, so here is my response to her post called “Operating in a State of Fear” from December 1.
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
When Mackenzie asked, “So why is it that life in America for some is now operated under fear?” I think she was referring to African Americans, specifically males, which find themselves forced to live life in fear of others’ prejudices and the potential for them to become victims of violence as a result of these prejudices. I’d like to suggest an alternative meaning for Mackenzie’s question. It is true that there are many people in American whose lives operate under fear for various reasons. For many women, their life is dictated by a fear of the potential to become a victim of sexual harassment or other forms of assault; for others, their life is characterized by a fear of being mistreated because of their sexual orientation; for many members of racial minorities, they live in fear of those that may judge them and treat them unfairly or even violently because of their race. It also seems that there is a group of individuals that lives in fear of people that they see as a threat simply because of their skin color. I am referring to the police officers that have used unnecessary force against individuals for seemingly no reason besides the fact that they felt threatened, and that threat does not appear to be anything other than a skin color different than the officer’s. Notice, I do not say that all police officers live in fear of minorities. I am not suggesting that all police officers hold prejudices, I am not specifying the race of the police officers I believe to be living in ignorant fear, and I am not saying that the only individuals that become victims of the violence that stems from these prejudices are racial minority members. To answer my own version of Mackenzie’s question of “Why?” I think it is the unknown and the perpetuation of stereotypes by our government’s policies that force certain police officers to operate under fear. I think we need to radically transform the way our country “manages” its minorities. The War on Drugs needs to stop. The outrageous prison sentences designed for African Americans need to go away immediately. The minimum wage that gives people absolutely no chance of ever moving out of the ghetto and improving their quality of life is very overdue for a raise. We need to break out habits of telling children things like “Be careful! Stay right by me and hold me hand!” as we walk past a black man on the sidewalk in the city. Kids are smart. They are constantly learning. They pick up on way more than you and I, so you can bet children are going to pick up on the differences in their parents behavior towards a black person and a white person. They will notice it, and they will imitate it. I believe we have racial prejudice in our country because we are teaching our children how to hold prejudices. If we want the violence to stop and the need for some individuals to live their every day lives in fear, we need to get over our fear of people that are different than us. We need to stop believing everything we hear about “being careful” simply because someone looks different. Black and white people are equally capable of hurting someone. And aside from physical violence, I’d be willing to argue that outward expressions of hatred are just as dangerous as inwardly held prejudices of those that are not like us. Why? Because they are dividing our nation, and a house divided against itself cannot stand. Unless we can learn to stop thinking in terms of “us” and “them”, our nation’s state of self-destruction will reach the point of no return.

One thought on “Response to Mackenzie’s post “Operating in a State of Fear””

  1. My comment is also in relation to Mackenzie’s post.

    The article offers the thoughts of an African American woman responding to the recent cases of police violence towards African Americans in the U.S. She talks about how these events have brought forward the idea of how she will one day have to have a discussion with her son Gavin about law enforcement seeing him “as a threat to eliminate rather than a citizen to protect” because of the colour of his skin. She speaks about how she cannot bring up her son to be brave and teach him justice when he has to be fearful of his interactions with authority and “cower before the power of the state for the sake of his life.”

    I found the authors thoughts on the repercussions of the Michael Brown and Tamir Rice cases harrowing. It seems deeply disturbing that a mother cannot properly teach her son about justice and standing up for what is right, as he must respect the police even if their actions are unfair and unjust. She raises questions such as “How do I teach him to tiptoe in the world and still be confident in himself,” to highlight the contradictions she must overcome in raising an African American son in America. The issues raised by the author demonstrate just how ingrained the racial disparities are within U.S. law enforcement. She talks in an almost resigned tone about how her son will have to overcome these biases in his life, and speaks about how her parents had to do the same for her by training her to become accustomed to being viewed as a second class citizen. She offers little hope for the future in the way she speaks which contributes to the harrowing nature of the piece. The main point that I took from this article, and Mackenzie’s post about it, is that whilst the events concerning Michael Brown and Tamir Rice are shocking by themselves, they represent the bias exerted by law enforcement and the difficulties this creates for parents raising an African American child and teaching them morals.

    How can we live in a society where the parents of children of a certain race must raise them in preparation for being subjected to greater scrutiny by policer officers? I don’t see how we can create a more equal society whilst a police force exists that does not treat all citizens equally, as it is almost impossible for parents of African American children to teach them right from wrong and help them develop a strong moral character, when law enforcement does not exhibit such traits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *