We need to stop whitesplaining racism in law enforcement

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It’s when a man enlightens a woman on a topic with which he has little actual knowledge or personal experience, and done with the assumption that the poor inferior small-brained female doesn’t really understand the situation.


When, in fact, she does. Far, far better than he.

Labor and delivery come to mind.

A smart man will not comment on what that agony is like. The rest will mansplain it.

There’s a racial counterpart to mansplaining: whitesplaining. We, as a country, have been whitesplaining black issues since the first chain-bound black foot stepped onto pre-American soil. Yes, we’ve come a long way since then, but clearly there’s a really long way to go, as evidenced by a live-streamed video of an innocent black man being murdered Wednesday in St. Paul Minnesota by a clearly hysterical and out-of-control police officer hopped up on adrenaline. No one with an IQ higher than celery can watch this video and ‘splain it away.

Under intense distress, with an unstable, shouting police officer pointing a gun into her car while her child witnessed the entire thing from the back seat, Diamond Reynolds had the astounding bravery and presence of mind to capture everything on video as her fiancé, Philandro Castile, bled to death after an officer shot him point blank. Castile literally died in front of our eyes. His transgression? Riding in a car with a broken taillight. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called it: Castile was shot because he was black.

The horrifying video followed on the heels of another showing Alton Sterling being murdered in Baton Rouge the day before. Sterling was tackled on the ground by two beefy officers, when one of them pulled out his pistol and shot him dead.

How many more times are we, as a nation, going to whitesplain this away?

You’d think Michael Brown being gunned by police officers down two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri would have sufficed, but no, the hits (as in “kills”) keep on coming. Brown’s murder fueled the Black Lives Matter movement, and outrage, sorrow and pent-up resentment were purged … but nothing changed.

Freddie Gray. Walter Scott. Laquan McDonald. Brendon Glenn. These are just some of the names in the parade of unarmed black men killed by police officers. Google it. It’s sickening. It’s a sea of injustice and nothing stems the tide. For centuries (yes!), black Americans have told their stories of police brutality and worse, and we’ve whitesplained them away … “He was trying to escape” … “He was high” … “He had a criminal record” … The river of denial pours into the sea of injustice.

Were it not for the proliferation of cell phones that can take videos that can be sprayed across the internet in seconds, the whitesplaining would certainly continue. But you can’t ‘splain Diamond Reynolds’ video away. It’s got to be the tipping point. It must be. It’s inarguable, and it’s specific: There’s a problem with how law enforcement approaches and addresses black Americans. Moreover, the problem isn’t black Americans’ to solve. It’s law enforcement’s problem to solve, and we as a nation must demand that they do.

Clearly, law enforcement needs a more diverse toolbox. As it pertains to blacks, law enforcement only seems to have a hammer — like the kind inside guns. Surely there must be a few more options than “Shoot or don’t shoot.” Take Michael Brown, for example. He was resisting arrest. They didn’t need to kill him. One shot to the kneecap would have brought the situation under control. But cops aren’t trained like that — they’re only trained to shoot to kill or not at all.

“Because that’s how we’re trained!”

Really? Then… stop it!

Certainly, there are situations when an officer must shoot, including deadly force. Not every single black man killed by a police officer was innocent. However, the statistics are disproportionate. Blacks are more than two times as likely to be killed at the hands of a police officer than whites, even though the overall population is more than 60 percent white and just a little over 12 percent black.

Black Lives Matter has been shouting its frustration with this law enforcement racism for nearly two years, but what good has it done? When shouting, pleading and crying don’t work, what choices are left? You can give up and continue to tolerate the injustice, or you can lash out and seek retribution, as did Micah Johnson. As protesters marched in the wake of the Castile and Sterling murders in Dallas on July 7, Johnson took the opportunity to pump bullets into 12 police officers, five of whom died. The loss of life is utterly tragic. But… honestly… I’m not that surprised.

When you can’t get what you want peaceably, when you can’t get your government to listen, when people are suffering and dying around you, your only choices are to endure or to rebel. No, it’s not right. But it’s where we’ve arrived.

America’s festering wound of racial tension has become septic. It’s killing us, and without immediate and drastic intervention, there’s nowhere to go from here but the morgue. We non-black Americans must stop the whitesplaining and listen to our black fellow citizens… hear, accept and understand the mistreatment they’re suffering that we cannot comprehend because we don’t experience it. We can’t wish it away or pretend it’s not there, because now it’s in our faces, thanks to cell phone videos and social media. There’s no more wiggle room for denial. People are suffering and dying because of the color of their skin. And it matters.

I often hear “Black Lives Matter” rebutted with a seemingly benevolent response of “All Lives Matter” — whitesplaining at its finest. All lives certainly do matter, but some matter more than others. Ironically, this is reflected by our legal system and those tasked with enforcing it — the very entities that should be protecting all of us against it.

It should be “All Lives Matter Equally.”

But they don’t.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

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