Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Queen Latifah's talk on the Today Show illustrates the complexity of Police Violence

In an interview this morning meant to promote the next Ice Age movie, talks with hip-hop legend and actress, Queen Latifah, turned to the recent murders of black men by police officers (Alton Sterling and Philando Castile) and the police officer shooting in Dallas. Watch below:

Queen Latifah is a black person. Queen Latifah is also related to police officers. She is personally affected by both sides of what is happening in our country. I also love that she calls out the fact that her brother, a police officer (and black man), has been harassed by other police officers. The issue that we're dealing with here is not simply about rogue police officers or (in some people's minds) lack of compliance on the part of black people stopped by police: it's a mentality of superiority that has not only continued to infiltrate the systems by which we are governed, but upon which these systems were built.

Earlier this week, Chicago activist and hip-hop artist, Jessica Disu aka FM Supreme spoke on The Kelly File about the need to think creatively about how we are governed. Jessica addresses the false idea that black people do not care as much about "black on black" violence, referencing her work with youth in Chicago. She clearly stated the need to disarm police, and ended by talking about the origin of the police department being slave patrol. Watch below:

For Jessica and for many of us, our encounters with the police have never been positive. There is an explosive concoction of fear, power, intimidation, pride, respectability politics, and precedence at play. Conversely, Queen Latifah grew up with a police officer, and understanding that her vantage point is different, still is adversely affected by the onslaught of murders committed against black people by police. She talks about "good cops having to deal with the bad cop's stuff." A prevalent argument has been that good cops who are silent about bad cops are just as culpable for the continuation of criminal behavior on police forces. But Queen Latifah is talking about her dad. She's talking about her brother (who was also harassed by police, regardless of sharing the same occupation as them). His plight is not uncommon. High ranking black officers have been harassed in the past.

The role of police officers was never meant to protect everyone, its foundations don't lend room to that, even though that's what we've been mentally bludgeoned to believe. The "justice" system wasn't constructed with people of color in general in mind. Reforms and amendments are irrelevant if the foundation of these roles and systems were steeped in the idea of white supremacy. So, even though the Queen's father and brother are also police officers, they are black men in America first, which makes them prey to a system that finds its origins in believing they were 3/5 human.

Ain't that some mess?


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