Opinion: A humble request for those of us who believe that black lives matter

by Peter Heck · Jun 10th, 2020 3:02 pm
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If you asked me to pinpoint the greatest problem facing America today, my all-encompassing answer to that would unequivocally be our people's inability and unwillingness to think. For whatever reason, and there are many, we no longer appear capable of thinking beneath the surface of any issue. Instead, we rage with emotion, hurling accusations and launching Twitter bombs. And it's killing us.

The most recent example is, of course, the current explosion of racial tension precipitated by the murder of George Floyd – a murder that, ironically, is one of the least controversial conclusions in America. I sincerely do not know a single person of any race that believes Floyd's death was anything except murder. Undoubtedly there are skin-headed Twitter trolls who would fill that despicable void, but it's worth noting how they are confined to the creepy shadows of our culture these days. Needless to say, in the Civil Rights era there was never this kind of cultural, cross-racial unanimity about the unjust murder of a black man.

That doesn't dismiss the legitimate experiences of far too many black Americans who are living lives in fear – not just of law enforcement, but of circumstances and environments far less favorable than that of the majority of white Americans.

I don't want to hide from those realities, I want to change them. But doing so is going to require us all to lower our political defenses, trust science, engage reason, begin thinking, and agree on actual solutions to tangible problems.

Let's start with policing. From the most comprehensive recent studies that have been conducted, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, the Obama-era Justice Department inquiry in 2015, and the research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. in 2019, the science simply does not support the proposition that there is a systemic issue of black civilians being targeted by white police officers. There are high-profile incidents of police brutality, but the research shockingly tells us that a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male in America than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.

None of those facts will immediately ease tension or change perception, and they don't diminish the anecdotal tragedies we have all seen unfold with our own eyes. What they can do, however, is guide us as we move towards meaningful reform. And by meaningful, I am not talking about marches, vague and generalized demands for "justice," brick throwing, hashtag tweets, and black squares posted to Instagram. I'm talking about policy changes that will result in fewer violent encounters between the police and black citizens.

It is verifiable fact that there are bad and corrupt police officers. The best way of eliminating that reality is the same way you eliminate bad teachers, and bad factory workers. You legislatively weaken the power of the union protecting them. Second, end qualified immunity – a policy that was well intentioned, but apparently gives too many officers a sense of legal invincibility when in aggressive encounters. Third, spend money on mandatory body cameras for all officers. Each of those things pursues justice – for all citizens, but particularly black citizens who feel targeted.

But if a thinking person truly believes that black lives matter, they won't stop there. They will recognize that violent police encounters is far down the list of the greatest immediate threats to justice and security for black citizens.

Abortion clinics commit 1,000 George Floyd encounters every day. Justice for those innocent black victims cannot be ignored if black lives matter to us.

Education opportunities between predominantly black inner-city schools and predominantly white rural schools is anything but equal. If black lives matter to us, black students must be given legitimate options and choices to escape their educational confinement. The expansion of the private sector into education will help, as will technology grants, drastic reduction in the size of school corporations, and statewide open enrollment policies. These things aren't Twitter-trendy, I know. But they are actual policy changes that will do something to help.

The problem of fatherlessness and the breakdown of the nuclear family are immediate red flags in all sociological data collected over the last century when it comes to creating at-risk youth. And black Americans are dealing with that scourge in devastating numbers. Economic insecurity plays a part in that, and churches, charities, and locally-driven public investments can help in that regard. But the problem is also one that needs a deeper, spiritual fix. In the interim, mentorship programs to put good men in the lives of young black children who have been deprived of them is an urgent necessity.

But for these changes or any effective policy to be implemented, there must be a compliant political class to enact it. And therein lies the danger for what foments in the current demonstrations. The political party that is positioned to benefit from the outrage is the same party that vehemently promotes the black abortion holocaust, defends police unions, believes in centralized, not localized government, opposes school choice, and advances policy intentionally designed to undermine the efficacy of the nuclear family.

Surely, thinking people cannot pretend that the Republican Party is the sole answer to what ails black America. But they also cannot and will not overlook that all the entrenched officials presiding for decades now over the areas where black people feel so vulnerable are Democrats.

In George Floyd's adopted home, he entered a community led by a Democrat Governor, Democrat Lt. Governor, Democrat Attorney General, 2 Democrat Senators, Democrat Representative, Democrat State Representative, Democrat State Senator, Democrat Mayor, Democrat City Council President, and Democrat City District Attorney.

Even radical activists like Shaun King have noticed.

There are answers to the legitimate problems black Americans face, but we have to commit ourselves to thinking if we're going to realize them.

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