It seems like there are just a few big issues that need to be solved. And solving those issues should be simple, binary things, they are either fixed or they are not. At least that’s how it sounds when you listen to the talking heads, the flag waving, pin wearing politicians and their supporters. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party you listen to, the answer always seems to be simple and directly contrary to their opponent.
Gun advocates won’t consider any change in the law or funding model that doesn’t entirely resolve every gun related issue in a single sweep, while retaining every level of their hard fought for rights both written and interpreted. According to that group we don’t need new laws, we just need to be better as using the laws we already have, and do it with the same or less money every year. While their opponents to guns seem to say that we don’t just need new laws, we also need to dramatically change our whole approach to weapons. The views are so diametrically opposed, that in effect they feed off of each other to ensure that nothing can ever change.
The “issue” of race parity is treated the same way. We have laws and a culture that favors those of fair skin, and European descent. The process of creating an even playing field cannot be solved in days or weeks, but has to be measured in generations. If your great-grandparents owned a house and went to school then your grandparents had an advantage and were much more likely to support financially and socially the chance of your parents going to school or university, which would have dramatically improved your childhood and your chance of a solid and supportive upbringing. It takes generations before a complete extended family is in the position to fully embrace and support the social and economic needs to help a complete generation of children.
The school system in the US today is probably more segregated than at any point in any countries history. Why would a well-educated family want their children to be in the same class or even the same school of children who grow up in broken households, or have parents who are poorly educated and don’t value education? The answer is that a cycle has to be broken, and that means investing very heavily in providing accelerated high quality support to any group of people who are below a socially acceptable level. Today that often means people of color (every variety). Yes, it means actually spending more on those who need more, as opposed to spending more on those who already have most. And of course those who have most are in the best position to fight for ensuring they continue to get the most.
The US through a complex mix of drug laws, social and economic segregation, and a draconian legal and penal system have created an underclass in society that is demonstrably color-coded. An underclass that is identifiable partly by skin color, but also by a dramatic difference in clothing, wealth and accent. This underclass then gets treated poorly by employers, the government and its legal proxies, which ensures that it continues to be an underclass.
I don’t believe the police are institutionally racist, but I do believe that the markers of the aforementioned underclass are always going to be a specific target for the police.
As an officer of the law, if you were to see a youth dressed as a 1970’s punk with torn clothing, a disheveled look and a bag, you would be interested in the contents of that bag. In today’s world, a large proportion of the societally created underclass are of color, and I would expect that that means that like everyone else, the police have learned to spot these as potential trouble spots. Is this institutional racism or is this a human response to the effects of hundreds of years of race based culture and laws?
It takes incredible effort, and professionalism to change society, and that does not come easily or cheaply. But it does need to happen.
Better schools and a fairer penal system designed to rehabilitate and not institutionalize, are long term requirements.
Policing that takes into consideration the currently economic and socially disparities is a shorter term tactic. The idea that everyone stopped by the police should be treated with military level aggression seems counter-productive to me, but with so many illegal guns, and so much at stake for anyone arrested due to the draconian legal and penal system, what choice is there?
There can be no tolerance for violence, either people protesting against the government or the government exceeding its power. In fact the best place for people and officials to unite is in stopping violence.
This country needs to fix social disparity, it is possibly the most expensive , resource intensive and time consuming activity a country can undertake, but it has to happen.
Yes it is complex, but that doesn’t make it impossible.